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Biz Briefs – Hawkeye 360, Benchmark Raise Funds

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
July 14, 2023
Filed under , , ,
Biz Briefs – Hawkeye 360, Benchmark Raise Funds
Cluster 4 satellites in orbit
Image credit: Hawkeye 360.

Welcome to Biz Briefs! In this edition, Hawkeye 360 and Benchmark Space Systems raised new funds, Ball put its aerospace unit up for sale, Rocket Lab snagged a launch contract, China’s LandSpace made history, and much more.


Hawkeye 360 raised $58 million in Series D-1 funding the company said it would use to introduce a new satellite architecture and accelerate geospatial data efforts. BlackRock led the round with additional funding from Manhattan Venture Partners and existing investors Insight Partners, NightDragon, Strategic Development Fund, Razor’s Edge, Alumni Ventures, and Adage Capital.

Benchmark Space Systems has raised $33,262,373 out of a planned $43,815,554 Series B round, according to a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The company will use the funding to work through a backlog of spacecraft propulsion orders.

Benchmark said it delivered a flight-ready Xantus propulsion unit for Orion Space Solutions’ Electro Optical Weather System six days ahead of schedule.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Ball Corporation’s aerospace business is for sale. Interested parties include private equity firms Blackstone Inc. and Veritas Capital Fund Management LLC and aerospace giants BAE Systems, General Dynamics, and Textron. The aerospace unit contributed 13% of Ball’s consolidated net sales last year, and it could be worth more than $5 billion.

Electron rocket on the launch pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. Image credit: Rocket Lab.


Japanese Earth imaging company Synspective has signed a contract with Rocket Lab for two additional dedicated Electron launches. The new contract increases the number of dedicated launches of Synspective synthetic aperture radar satellites to six. Rocket Lab has conducted three launches; the fourth is scheduled for late 2023.

NASA has issued task orders worth $5 million apiece to Axiom Space and Collins Aerospace to begin developing new spacesuits. Axiom Space will work on a spacesuit for use in low Earth orbit, and Collins will begin work on a spacesuit for use on the Moon.

PLD Space has won a contract worth €1.5 million (USD $1.68 million) from the Spanish government for the development of a microsatellite launcher. The award is part of a competition. The second phase of the competition will award a €40.5 million (USD $45.49 million) contract in 2024. PLD’s strategic partners include Aciturri, Airbus, Air Liquide, ALTER, Anteral, Applus, Caye, CECOM, CMASA, Deimos, INSYTE, LOGO 2, Mecanizados Especiales, OCCAM, Repsol, Swagelok, Talleres Ramón Clemente, and Tecno Lanema.


EchoStar announced that seven leading European Internet of Things (IoT) service providers have signed multi-year commercial agreements to develop and sell IoT solutions using EchoStar Mobile’s Pan-European, satellite-based, LoRa-enabled IoT network. The customers, API-K, Cyric, DalesLandNet, Dryad, Galaxy1, ProEsys, and Symes are leveraging the real-time network to enable massive IoT deployments for applications such as outdoor personal geo-safety, soil moisture monitoring, ultra-early forest fire detection, utility metering, and pipeline monitoring.

Hanwha Systems has obtained a license from South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT to operate as a satellite Internet service provider. In 2021, the company invested $300 million for an 8.8 percent stake in OneWeb, which is rolling out its satellite broadband service worldwide.

Mongolia has signed an agreement with SpaceX under which Elon Musk’s company will provide Starlink broadband services throughout the country.

VSS Unity fires its engine
VSS Unity fires its engines during the Galactic 01 flight. Image credit: Virgin Galactic.

Human Spaceflight

Virgin Galactic is targeting August 10 for its second commercial suborbital flight. VSS Unity will carry the first three of around 800 people who have signed up for flights. The flight follows the first commercial flight in late June that carried three Italians on a research mission.

Voyager Space has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Department of Space and the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe) to explore opportunities for the utilization of ISRO’s Gaganyaan crewed spacecraft to service the commercial Starlab space station. Voyager and IN-SPACe will also seek additional collaboration opportunities with various stakeholders within the Indian space ecosystem, including research institutions, commercial entities, and government agencies.

Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander launched by LVM-III rocket
LVM-III rocket launches India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander. Image credit: ISRO.


The Indian Space Research Organisation successfully launched its Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander on Friday. The spacecraft is headed for an Aug. 23 landing on the Moon, where it will study the lunar environment and deploy a small rover. India’s previous attempt to land on the moon with Chandrayaan-2 failed when the lander crashed during descent to the surface.

China’s LandSpace made history when it successfully launched the first rocket powered by methane on July 12. The Zhuque-2 successfully reached space after launch from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert. The booster is powered by methane and liquid oxygen, also known as methalox. SpaceX’s Starship/Super Heavy, Relativity Space’s Terran 1, United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan, and Blue Origin’s New Glenn rockets use methalox. None of these launch vehicles have reached space.

Orbex is adding an extra 1,500 square meters (16146 square feet) of factory and office space in Forres, Scotland, and Copenhagen, Denmark as it gears up for the company’s first launch from the United Kingdom. The company’s facilities previously totaled a 4,750 square meters (51129 square feet) footprint.


Critics have attacked a plan to cut AUD $1.2 million (USD $820,800) from Australia’s national space budget as short-sighted. The cut would primarily affect the National Space Mission for Earth Observation, which involves launching four satellites to return data about the planet, monitor Australia’s sovereign waters, and provide weather data.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has issued a call for researchers to assist the space agency in identifying research topics related to space-based solar power satellites that would beam energy down to Earth.


Ground software provider Atlas Space Operations has appointed John Williams as its new CEO. Williams previously served as vice president of real-time Earth at Viasat, where he led the development of the ground-station-as-a-service business line. He previously worked at Booz Allen Hamilton, ATK Space Systems, and Universal Space Network (now SSC) and served in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years.


A bill introduced by House Science Committee Chairman Frank Lucas would make the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) into a separate agency on par with NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. NOAA is currently part of the Commerce Department. Lucas said the move would reduce bureaucratic inefficiencies, streamlines oversight effort, and refocus NOAA on its core mission of weather forecasting.


ATLAS Space Operations has launched a wholly owned subsidiary, Freedom Space Technologies, to provide support to government space missions, including classified programs by the Department of Defense and national security space agencies.

Plasmos has shifted from rocket engines to venture capital only months after unveiling plans for its Space Truck. The company said it was unable to raise money for the orbital space tug, which was designed to transport satellites, facilitate on-orbit spacecraft servicing, and actively remove debris.

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