Start-up Space Blasts Off

Bryce Space and Technology has produced a new report, Start-up Space: Update on Investment in Commercial Space Ventures.

Below is the executive summary. You can also download the full report.

Executive Summary

The Start-Up Space series examines space investment in the 21st century and analyzes investment trends, focusing on investors in new companies that have acquired private financing. Space is continuing to attract increased attention in Silicon Valley and in investment communities world-wide. Space ventures now appeal to investors because new, lower-cost systems are envisioned to follow the path terrestrial tech has profitably traveled: dropping system costs and massively increasing user bases for new products, especially new data products. Large valuations and exits are demonstrating the potential for high returns.
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Soyuz Rocket Launches 73 Satellites in One Flight

Soyuz-2 launch (Credit: Roskosmos)

A Russian Soyuz-2 rocket deployed 48 Planet Dove and eight Spire Lemur CubeSats on Friday during a flight that deployed a total of 73 satellites.

The Dove and Lemur satellites were secondary payloads on the launch, whose main mission was to deploy the Kanopus-V-IK remote sensing satellite.

Planet co-founder Will Marshall tweeted that all 48 satellites were deployed as planned and were in contact with ground controllers.

The Soyuz also launched three Cicero radio occultation satellites for GeoOptics and two Corvus-BC imaging CubeSats for Astro Digital.  Both companies are based in the United States.

In addition to Russia and the United States, the 72 secondary satellites came from Canada, Germany Japan, and Norway.

Cygnus Delivers NanoRacks’ Largest CubeSat Mission to ISS

HOUSTON (NanoRacks PR) — Orbital ATK’s Cygnus (OA-7) spacecraft successfully berthed to the International Space Station (ISS) early this morning after launching Tuesday, April 18th from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This mission is NanoRacks’ largest CubeSat mission to date – carrying 38 CubeSats to be deployed from NanoRacks deployers on both the ISS and on the outside of Cygnus.

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Japanese Cargo Vehicle Arrives at ISS with NanoRacks Payloads

HTV-6 cargo ship approaches the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
HTV-6 cargo ship approaches the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON, December 13, 2016 (NanoRacks PR) – The Japanese Space Agency JAXA’s H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) cargo spacecraft successfully berthed to the International Space Station (ISS) on its sixth mission on Tuesday, December 13. The berthing occurred after a four-day flight to the station following the spacecraft’s launch Friday evening local time on an H-IIB rocket from the Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center. The cargo ship arrived with eight NanoRacks customer payloads on board.

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NanoRacks Completes Above Space Station Cygnus CubeSat Deployment

The Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter is seen moments after being released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. (Credit: NASA TV)
The Orbital ATK Cygnus space freighter is seen moments after being released from the grips of the Canadarm2 robotic arm. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NanoRacks PR) – On November 25, 2016 NanoRacks successfully deployed four Spire LEMUR-2 CubeSats from Orbital-ATK’s Cygnus Cargo Vehicle from a 500-kilometer orbit, flying high above the International Space Station (ISS) in the first mission of its kind.

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Smith, Bridenstine Congratulate Spire on NOAA Contract

spire_logo2WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) — U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX21), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, along with U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK1), chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment for the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, today released the following statements congratulating Spire, Inc., a private sector weather company, on earning the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration first contract to acquire data from a commercial weather satellite constellation. Spire has been hired to provide GPS Radio Occultation data to increase weather forecasting.

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A Closer Look at Which Space Companies U.S. VC’s are Investing in

Falcon 9 launches the Dragon CRS-9 mission to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
Falcon 9 launches the Dragon CRS-9 mission to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

NASA’s new publication, “Economic Development of Low Earth Orbit,” consists of a series of papers that examines a number of important policy questions that will be of rising importance as NASA transitions human spaceflight in LEO to the private sector.

One of the papers, “Venture Capital Activity in the Low-Earth Orbit Sector,”
has detailed information on what U.S. venture capitalists have invested in. Key excerpts from the paper follow.
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Planet Orders 3 Launches from Rocket Lab

Founder and CEO Peter Beck displays Rocket Lab’s accumulated expertise in carbon composite launch vehicles. (Credit: Rocket Lab)
Founder and CEO Peter Beck displays Rocket Lab’s accumulated expertise in carbon composite launch vehicles. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

LOS ANGELES (Rocket Lab PR) — Planet and Rocket Lab have signed a Launch Services Agreement for at least three dedicated launches on Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle.

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Report: 3,600 Smallsats to Clog Space in Next 10 Years

Eight small-sized satellites total a big bonus for science. The Edison Demonstration of Smallsat Networks (EDSN) mission was to have used a swarm of small spacecraft to carry out scientific measurements. (Credit: NASA Ames Research Center)
Eight small-sized satellites total a big bonus for science. The Edison Demonstration of Smallsat Networks (EDSN) mission was to have used a swarm of small spacecraft to carry out scientific measurements. (Credit: NASA Ames Research Center)

$22 Billion Smallsat Market Forecast

Paris, Washington D.C., Montreal, Yokohama, July 7, 2016 (Euroconsult PR) — According to Euroconsult’s latest report, Prospects for the Small Satellite Market, we are on the cusp of a major revolution for the space sector and overall space ecosystem, as more than 3,600 smallsats are expected to be launched over the next ten years, a significant increase from the previous decade.

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Rocket Lab Signs Up Spire for Electron Launches

Rocket_Lab_logoRocket Lab says it has signed up Spire for up to 12 launches of its maritime surveillance satellites.

Spire uses small satellites to provide weather and maritime data and will be launched aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket.

Rocket Lab is building a launch pad and other facilities at the tip of the Mahia Peninsula, south of Gisborne.

The Auckland-based company has two other customers for its service which promises to cut the slash the cost of small satellite launches.

Spire has offices in San Francisco, Glasgow and Singapore and specialises in maritime surveillance.

Four Spire Weather Satellites Launched into Orbit

spire_logo2Spire has successfully deployed four CubeSats as the foundation of what it bills as the “world’s first commercial weather satellite network.”

The spacecraft — named LEMUR2-PETER, LEMUR2-JOEL, LEMUR2-JEROEN, and LEMUR2-CHRIS — were deployed as secondary payloads aboard an Indian PSLV rocket on Monday. The primary payload was ASTROSAT, which is India’s first multi-wavelength space observatory.

“Spire’s operations team, at the heart of our mission control, is already hard at work,” the company announced on its website. “At 24-minutes post launch, our first satellite was deployed from the rocket, followed in quick succession by the remaining three satellites. Our team will spend the next hours and days identifying our satellites (non-trivial when you are released amongst a group of satellites), running core system checks, and preparing to deliver meaningful customer data.

“Also important at this stage will be our global ground station network. We deploy ground stations to far flung locations around the world so that we can be prepared for just this occasion, able to pick up and communicate with our network of satellites in a near continuous fashion. Our network continues to evolve and our team, which operates 24-hours per day/ 6-days per week out of our three global offices, is ready for this launch and the onslaught of launches coming just on the heels of today’s success,” the company said.

Spire Closes $40 Million Series B Funding Round

Satellite bus (Credit: Spire)
Satellite bus (Credit: Spire)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Jun 30, 2015 (Spire PR) — Spire, a satellite-powered data company, today announced it closed a $40 million Series B round of funding led by Promus Ventures with participation from new investors Bessemer Venture Partners and Jump Capital, as well as existing investors RRE Ventures and Lemnos Labs, among others. To date, Spire has secured just over $80 million through three rounds of funding. With the new funds, the company will support further growth and expand its constellation from 20 satellites in 2015 to more than 100 by the end of 2017.

The latest round of financing comes at a time when the need for advancements in weather and maritime data is at an all-time high. With the potentially catastrophic 2016 Weather Gap right around the corner, Spire offers a solution to the $2.4 trillion dollar global problem. Emerging as a leader in the ‘Space Race 2.0,’ Spire is the only commercial weather data provider with scheduled launches in 2015. The company will begin deploying its satellites on a near monthly basis beginning September 2015.

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Ardusat Secures $1 Million in Seed Funding

Arusat deployed from the International Space Station.
Arusat deployed from the International Space Station.
  • Seed round will finance expansion of Ardusat platform, enabling K-12 and higher ed students to conduct science and technology experiments in space and on earth
  • Edtech startup also announces launch of an open data repository, where students can post experiment results for public academic use

SALT LAKE CITY (Ardusat PR) — Ardusat, an education company focused on enhancing student engagement through hands-on experimentation, today announced it has secured a total of $1 million in seed funding from Space Florida, Fresco Capital, Spire and other investors. The capital will finance the expansion of Ardusat’s Experiment Platform, which enables K-12 and higher education students to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields through custom experiments conducted in space or on earth.

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Spire Looks to Improve Weather Forecasting With CubeSats

spire_logo2Spire, the CubeSat start-up formerly known as NanoSatisfi, is planning to launch a constellation of satellites that will help improve weather forecasting.

Spire will have 20 satellites orbiting Earth by the end of this year, and at least 100 3.5 years from now if all goes according to plan. Together, the satellites will eventually provide 100 times more information.

“We want to take advantage of technology that’s available, technology that we have developed, and move weather forecasting into an entirely different realm,” CEO Peter Platzer said in an interview.

He likened the current state of weather forecasting to driving to a gas station and purchasing a paper map. With more satellites, the experience will be more akin to pulling up Google Maps on a mobile device.

Platzer foresees a public/private partnership that moves weather forecasting off of the government and onto private companies, which will be able to provide it for a fraction of the cost.

Read the full story.

Nanosatisfi Raises $25 Million Series A Funding, Changes Name to Spire

spire_sat_busSAN FRANCISCO (Spire PR) –Spire, a satellite-powered data company, announced today that it has raised $25 million in Series A funding. Spire is changing its name from Nanosatisfi, with rebranding rolling out through the end of the year.

“We listen to the three-quarters of the Earth that is remote or covered by water. Our customers make global business decisions and require detailed data in regions that have been critically underserved. Spire’s offering of high frequency, high accuracy data resonated with them, particularly in the areas of global trade, weather, shipping and supply chain, illegal fishing, and maritime domain awareness. Modern remote sensing traditionally focuses on the small fraction of Earth that is covered in land and is densely populated with people,” says Peter Platzer, Spire CEO. “What happens, particularly over the oceans, is critical in understanding global systems, and our proprietary technology delivers truly global perspectives that enable our customers to make smarter decisions.”

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