SpaceX Founding Team Launches Vector Space Systems to Redefine Space Commerce

Credit: Vector Space Systems
Credit: Vector Space Systems

TUSCON, Ariz., April 26, 2016 (Vector Space Systems PR) — Vector Space Systems, a Micro Satellite space launch enterprise comprised of new-space industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas and Sea Launch, today announced it has secured more than $1M in angel funding at Space 2.0 in Silicon Valley. Vector Space Systems, which sports a roster of technology and aerospace giants to provide industry insight, expertise and leadership, was formed to fundamentally change the dynamics and economics of the space launch industry.

More than just another satellite launch company, Vector Space Systems connects space startups with affordable and reliable launch-enabling platforms and vehicles at a cost point never before possible for accessing space.  Featuring the only launch system dedicated to serving the rapidly growing Micro satellite market, Vector Space Systems aims to foster innovation throughout the market segment to spark space commerce growth through reliable and frequent launch opportunities.  In addition, Vector Space Systems is developing a platform approach to broaden the access of space technology to non-experts, extending the traditional launch vehicle only model to include space systems that permit anyone to innovate and create space applications without the need for hiring an entirely new satellite development team.

The space industry as a whole, and micro space developers in particular, need a platform that not only provides the frequent and low cost access to space, but also lowers the technology barriers and need for specialized expertise to do what they do best – create applications and commerce in space. Vector Space Systems gives space startups a solution to the slow launch rates and fixed infrastructure of the large launch vehicles, providing platform products that will broaden the appeal of space commerce to both app builders and innovators.

Micro Satellites weighing less than 50 kg are forecast to account for 75 percent of all satellites launched by number by 2020 (Space Intelligence Report 2015).  The growth of the market is already here with 175 of these satellites launched in 2015 alone. This Micro Satellite market is perceived as filler to the larger launch vehicles, treated much like excess cargo that gets manifested where extra space is available. Vector Space Systems will specifically service the Micro Satellite market with low cost and frequent orbit launches that organizations can choose rather than force Micro Satellites onto orbit “bus rides” based on someone else’s schedule and destination.


Jim Cantrell, Vector Space Systems CEO and founding member of SpaceX: “I am truly honored and thrilled to be leading a team of industry veterans on such an important and pivotal space startup.  We see innovation and value creation being the strongest in the Micro Satellite sector and Vector Space Systems will create a development platform that will foster this innovation and bring the reality of space to a much larger pool of entrepreneurs who don’t need to be space experts. I am likewise honored to have such an influential group of seed investors who will bring much needed Silicon Valley DNA to the space business and will deeply influence our business, sales, marketing and product development strategies.”

Shaun Coleman, Vector Space Systems Board Member and Investor: “Space need not be the realm of the elite, and privileged few any longer. Vector Space Systems was founded to break down those barriers by developing a platform to provide low cost and reliable access to orbit. I find Vector Space Systems to be similar in many ways to disruptive software technologies such as VMware, which saw the need to democratize and make more efficient the datacenter by allowing its customers to focus on applications and data, and not the underlying computer hardware. This innovative boundary breaking approach applied to space will enable startups and cost-conscious innovators alike to concentrate on what’s most important – their unique applications. Today innovators may have to wait years to get their products to market and orbit; no longer. I look forward to being a part of this revolution of space shaping an environment that empowers the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

Nick Karangelan, CEO of Trident Systems: “Space is an expanding economic frontier that is drawing the collective creativity and innovation of the commercial industries. What we need are technologies like those Vector Space Systems is bringing in order to lower the barrier of entry to space and to enable our technologies to fly and build profitable enterprises around the space technologies we possess. I’m investing in Vector Space Systems because it is the right team to make this happen and its technical approach is clearly heads and shoulders above the rest!”

The following are some of the industry veterans who will assist Vector Space Systems’ development and go-to-market strategies to grow it into the leading space launch platform provider for customer focused, low cost, rapid, and reliable space vehicle deployment.

  • Founders:
    • Jim Cantrell, CEO – Jim is a well-known space entrepreneur, expert in small spacecraft systems and was on the founding team of SpaceX with Elon Musk, serving as SpaceX’s first VP of Business Development.  Jim has 30 years experience in commercial space efforts including StratSpace, Skybox Imaging, and the privately developed Lightsail.  Early in his career, Jim worked for the French Space Agency CNES in Toulouse, NASA/JPL and has helped grow more than 20 space start-ups to profitability and acquisition through StratSpace where he was the Founder and CEO.  Jim has been involved in the corporate development or financing of Silicon Valley’s most notable space startups including Skybox, Planet Lab, Rocket Lab, World View, PlanetIQ and Orbital Insight.
    • John Garvey, CTO John is a 30-year space veteran who was also deeply involved with the founding team of SpaceX. John developed launch vehicles and launch operations for the McDonnell Douglas Delta III and Delta IV, the DCX-A single stage to orbit vehicle, Sea Launch and Micro launch vehicles for Garvey Spacecraft Corporation. John has extensive experience in the development of propulsion systems and launch vehicles and has worked with AFRL, DARPA, NASA and numerous commercial space enterprises such as COSMOS-1 the world’s first solar sail.
    • Ken Sunshine, CFO – Ken is senior executive with extensive expertise in strategic planning, financial analysis, raising capital, operations and project management for technology companies, and has served as the CFO of Virgin Galactic and Moon Express as well as SVP Finance of Orbital Sciences. Ken has extensive capital markets experience including IPOs, private placements, asset-backed debt, M&A and joint ventures.
    • Eric Besnard, VP Engineering  Dr. Eric Besnard is a well-known expert in aerospace system design, rocket and spacecraft propulsion, and launch vehicles. He has been involved in liquid propulsion research and launch vehicle technology development funded by NASA, the Air Force, MDA and others. These include the development of innovative launch vehicles and upwards of 30 flight tests, such as the first known aerospike and LOX/methane rocket engine flight tests. He also has extensive expertise in CubeSat, Nanosat and Microsat propulsion technology development.  Dr. Besnard is Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and served as Chair of its Liquid Propulsion Technical Committee (LPTC). He has authored numerous scientific papers on launch vehicle and spacecraft propulsion technologies.
  • Advisors and Investors:
    • Shaun Coleman – Investor/Board Member, co-founder of CloudVolumes (acquired by VMware) and Reconnex (acquired by McAfee). A serial entrepreneur and active angel investor in Silicon Valley, Shaun joins Vector Space System’s board of directors to provide more than 20 years of expertise in product management, fundraising and business development strategy.
    • Matt Conover – Investor/Board Member, co-founder and CTO of CloudVolumes, and currently a Chief Architect at VMware. Matt provides software development expertise and is actively involved with Vector Space’s technical team.
    • Nick Karangelan – Investor, Founder of Trident Systems and Trident Space who is building a constellation of Synthetic Aperture Radar imaging satellites.

About Vector Space Systems

Vector Space Systems is a disruptive space innovator that connects space startups with affordable and reliable launch enabling platforms and vehicles at a cost point never before possible for accessing space. For more information, visit