What happened

It's Thursday morning, space investors, and your stocks are moving again -- but in opposite directions.

At 11:45 a.m. EST today, shares of Holicity (HOL), the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that proposes to bring rocket maker Astra public in a SPAC IPO, were up a solid 13%. On the other hand, space tourism company Virgin Galactic (SPCE -11.74%) saw its stock slip 3.4%.

3 spaceships of progressively larger size

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

There's no news about either company today, leaving investor sentiment as the most likely explanation for what we're seeing.  

A little over a year ago, Sir Richard Branson helped to bring Virgin Galactic public in the beginning of a wave of SPAC IPOs, saying he wanted to create an opportunity for investors who would like to "dabble a little bit in a spaceship company, own a little bit of a spaceship company."

There was a market for that, and Virgin Galactic stock is up by more than 5 times in the 13 months or so since its IPO.

Now what

But 13 months later, Virgin Galactic is no longer the only way to dabble in space investing. Investors today have Stable Road Acquisition's (SRAC) Momentus to choose from, too, and New Providence Acquisition's (NPA) AST SpaceMobile, both of which are closing in on their own IPO dates.

And as of this week, they also have a fourth choice, Holicity, which has promised to bring Astra public, making the small rocket launch company the latest shiny new thing on the market.

So it's understandable if investors are now attracted to Astra and Holicity. Its stock hasn't even doubled yet, much less quintupled, and therefore seems to have more room to run than Virgin. Ultimately, however, the success of all these space companies will depend on whether they can translate investor enthusiasm into profits for shareholders.

And that remains to be seen, from any of them.