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Smallsat Briefs – Rocket Factory Augsburg Receives €30 Million Investment

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
August 10, 2023
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Smallsat Briefs – Rocket Factory Augsburg Receives €30 Million Investment
Small Satellite conference logo.

Greetings from the just completed Small Satellite conference in Utah. In this edition of SmallSat Briefs, Rocket Factory Augsburg announced another fundraising round, Spire Global won a satellite contract, a Spanish company acquired Ecliptic Enterprises, Lockheed Martin opened a new small satellite manufacturing facility, Extrotrail launched US subsidiaries, and other news from the conference.

RFA secures investment from KKR

Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA) announced it has raised €30 million (USD $32.9 million) from global investment firm KKR. The funding will allow the company to conduct an integrated first-stage test of the RFA One micro-satellite launcher, and to complete the company’s launch pad at SaxaVord Spaceport in Scotland. RFA One’s maiden flight is scheduled for the second quarter of 2024. KKR’s convertible bond makes the firm a leading investor in RFA alongside existing strategic investor OHB.

Spire Global wins satellite order

Spire Global has won a contract to build four 16U CubeSats for GHGSat that will monitor greenhouse gas emissions around the world. The satellites will be launched no earlier than 2024. GHGSat previously ordered three 16U CubeSats from Spire that are scheduled for launch by the end of this year.

Lockheed Martin opens manufacturing facility

Lockheed Martin has opened a multi-million dollar small-satellite manufacturing facility designed to produce spacecraft at a high rate. The 20,000-square-foot facility will house the company’s Space Development Agency (SDA) Tranche 1 Transport Layer satellites as well as other small satellite programs and technology demonstrators.

ARQUIMEA acquires Ecliptic Enterprises, invests $5 million

Spanish aerospace company ARQUIMEA has acquired 100 percent of Ecliptic Enterprises Corp., a supplier of space avionics and imaging systems based in Pasadena, California. The deal with finalized at the end of July. ARQUIMEA’s initial investment was for 10 percent of the company.

ARQUIMEA announced a $5 million investment in Ecliptic to support the company’s growth and to accelerate advancements in Ecliptic’s radiation-hardened cameras and space routers for missions in geostationary orbit and to the moon. The investment will also support the development of multispectral high-resolution optical payloads for Earth observation and compact artificial-intelligence-driven smart cameras for surveillance.

ARQUIMEA & Aerospacelab to develop satellite

ARQUIMEA and Aerospacelab of Belgium will co-develop a low-Earth orbit satellite platform that will be optimized for power and reliability. The spacecraft will carry payloads weighing more than 40 kg (88.2 lbs) and provide 1.5 kW of peak power. The two companies plan to develop the capability to mass-produce the satellite model in Spain and Belgium.

Exotrail launches US subsidiaries

French space mobility company Exotrail has established two American subsidiaries, Exotrail U.S. and Exotrail U.S. Federal. Exotrail U.S. will focus on developing engineering and manufacturing capabilities in the United States to support government and commercial customers. Exotrail U.S. Federal will focus on the defense sector. Exotrail is focused on enhancing the mobility and overall performance of small satellites.

Exotrail named space software veteran Tyler Browder as CEO of the new subsidiaries. The company appointed Brian Hold as director of US government business development and partnerships. Hold has worked with the US Air Force and US Space Force over the past two decades.

Frontgrade acquires Aethercomm

Frontgrade Technologies, an independent supplier of high-reliability, advanced electronic solutions for space and national security missions, has competed acquisition of Aethercomm, a designer and manufacturer of high-power radio frequency (RF) solid-state power amplifiers as well as transmit/receive and high-power RF switches.

“Aethercomm’s RF technologies have an excellent reputation for reliability and are very complementary to Frontgrade’s current portfolio of processing, power, and propulsion solutions,” said Frontgrade President and CEO Mike Elias. “We look forward to integrating Aethercomm’s business capabilities and highly skilled team with Frontgrade, and we anticipate that the end-to-end range of products we now offer will provide significant advantages to our customers.”

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