Of the aerospace and defense companies, Northrop Grumman (NOC) stands out; indeed, the stock is a current Growth Portfolio recommendation, notes Scott Chan, contributing editor of The Complete Investor.

Space represents about 25% of the company’s revenues, making space a larger portion of its business than for any other major defense and aerospace company. Moreover, space is Northrop’s fastest-growing segment, while Northrop’s overall growth rate is expected to outpace that of any other company in the industry.

Northop’s history in space is compelling. It was responsible for developing the first lunar module and has played a role in many other space milestones.

Today that leadership is exemplified by the company’s ESPAStar spacecraft platform, which is distinguished by its cost-effective modular design. It’s a model for the kind of space infrastructure that will be needed as a basis for developing the technol- ogy associated with space.

Another milestone was a recently launched vehicle, the Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) that for the first time was able to provide maintenance that extended the life of another satellite. MEV remains in orbit and will be able to service other satellites.

Saving the best for last, Northrop is a key partner in NASA’s Artemis program for sending astronauts back to the moon. The program, which is part of an international collaboration, aims to establish a base on the moon.

It could be used for mining and also serve as a launching pad for the exploration of planets, with Mars high on the list. In other words, the company’s past space milestones are likely to be a prelude to an even greater future role.

Over the next three to five years, free cash flow should grow at a low double-digit rate, leading to share repurchases and possible acquisitions, especially if our expectations about moon mining prove correct. Northrop is a core position for investors who want a stake in what is likely to be an exciting space future.

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