#Aerospace & Defense

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Why Astra built a space startup and rocket factory in Silicon Valley
Darrell Etherington

There’s a new launch startup in the mix called Astra, which has been operating in semi-stealth mode for the past three years, building its rockets just a stone’s throw from the heart of startup central in Alameda County, Calif. Astra’s approach isn’t exactly a secret — its founders didn’t set out to hide anything and […]

French aerospace company Gama raises $2M to develop a solar sail spacecraft
Stefanie Waldek

Just as sea breezes propel sailboats across the sea on Earth, solar radiation might one day be able to propel spacecraft between the stars. Or at least that’s the hope of French start-up Gama. The aerospace company was founded in 2020 by Louis de Gouyon Matignon, Thibaud Elziere, and Andrew Nutter, whose goal is to […]

Benchmark Space Systems and Starfish Space team up to advance orbital docking and refueling
Aria Alamalhodaei

Humans may not have totally mastered getting objects to space, but we’ve done a pretty good job so far. The hundreds of satellites that orbit the Earth are proof enough that ‘send stuff to space’ is firmly in humanity’s capacity. But what about refueling, repairing, or even adding capabilities to spacecraft or satellites once they’re […]

Astra targets December for next orbital launch attempt
Darrell Etherington

Astra is set to launch it’s next orbital rocket, with a window that opens on December 7 and lasts for 12 days following, until December 18, with an 11 AM to 2:30 PM PT block each day during which the launch could occur, depending on weather and conditions on the ground. This is the startup’s […]

Take a virtual tour through Rocket Lab’s New Zealand rocket launch facility
Darrell Etherington

Rocket Lab is one of the extremely small group of rocket launch startups that is actually sending payloads to space, and the company sends all of its spacecraft up from a scenic peninsula located on the East Coast of New Zealand. Why? It’s ideally placed for high frequency launch windows, which should help Rocket Lab […]

OrbitFab secures National Science Foundation funding to propel its satellite refueling tech to space
Darrell Etherington

On-orbit satellite refueling technology is closer than ever to a practical reality, which could help immensely with the cost and sustainability of orbital businesses. Startup OrbitFab, a 2019 TechCrunch Battlefield finalist, is one of the companies working to make orbital refueling a reality, and it just secured a new contract from the National Science Foundation’s […]

Find out how we’re working toward living and working in space at TC Sessions: Space 2020
Darrell Etherington

The idea of people going to live and work in space, outside of the extremely unique case of the International Space Station, has long been the strict domain of science fiction. That’s changing fast, however, with public space agencies, private companies and the scientific community all looking at ways of making it safe for people […]

Astroscale raises $51 million in Series E funding to fuel its orbital sustainability ambitions
Darrell Etherington

On-orbit service and logistics startup Astroscale has raised a $51 million Series E funding round, bringing its total raised to date to $191 million thus far. The Japan-based company has been focused on delivering new solutions for orbital end-of-life – meaning ways to make orbital operations more sustainable by offering easy to safely de-orbit spacecraft […]

Watch JAXA’s HTV-8 mission launch aboard a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-IIB rocket live
Darrell Etherington

  Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’s Launch Services division is all set to send a crucial cargo payload to the International Space Station from JAXA today. The launch is scheduled for 6:33 AM Japan Standard Time (5:33 PM ET/2:33 PM PT), and will take off from Tanegashima Island, at JAXA’s Tanegashima Space Center. The rocket used for […]

Twilio gets hacked, teens ditch Facebook, and SpaceX takes South Korea to the moon
Greg Kumparak

Hi again! Welcome back to Week in Review, the newsletter where we quickly recap the top stories from TechCrunch dot-com this week. Want it in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here. Is Facebook for old people? If you’ve got a teenager around the house, you’ve probably heard them say as much. The most read […]

Launch startup Astra’s rocket reaches space
Darrell Etherington

Rocket launch startup Astra has joined an elite group of companies who can say their vehicle has actually made it to orbital space – earlier than expected. The company’s Rocket 3.2 test rocket (yes it’s a rocket called ‘Rocket’) passed the Karman line, the separation point 100 km or 62 miles up that most consider […]

Max Q: NASA signs up new Moon delivery companies
Darrell Etherington

Sign up here to receive Max Q weekly in your inbox, starting December 15. There were lot of highlights in the space industry this past week (even though a rocket launch that was supposed to happened is now pushed to Monday). The biggest news for commercial space might just be that NASA signed on five […]

Crowdfunded spacecraft LightSail 2 prepares to go sailing on sunlight
Devin Coldewey

Among the many spacecraft and satellites ascending to space on Monday's Falcon Heavy launch, the Planetary Society's LightSail 2 may be the most interesting. If all goes well, a week from launch it will be moving through space — slowly, but surely — on nothing more than the force exerted on it by sunlight.

Swarm gets all the approvals it needs to begin operating its satellite connectivity service in the U.S.
Darrell Etherington

Space startup Swarm emerged from stealth mode in an unusual way two years ago when it turned out that it had launched some of its satellites in contravention of an FCC order not to do so. The regulator had argued that their satellites, which are tiny spacecraft smaller even than most Cubesats, were in fact […]

NASA calls for more companies to join its commercial lunar lander program
Darrell Etherington

NASA has opened up a call for companies to join the ranks of its nine existing Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) providers, a group it chose in November after a similar solicitation for proposals. With the CLPS program, NASA is buying space aboard future commercial lunar landers to deliver to the surface of the Moon […]

Starfish Space raises $7M for in-orbit servicing space tug
Aria Alamalhodaei

Satellite servicing company Starfish Space has closed $7 million in funding to accelerate the development of a space tug vehicle that can extend the life of spacecraft and get rid of orbital debris. Servicing satellites used to be nigh impossible, due to the extreme costs associated with going to orbit. Essentially, once a spacecraft was […]

Space startup Gitai raises $17.1M to help build the robotic workforce of commercial space
Darrell Etherington

Japanese space startup Gitai has raised a $17.1 million funding round, a Series B financing for the robotics startup. This new funding will be used for hiring, as well as funding the development and execution of an on-orbit demonstration mission for the company’s robotic technology, which will show its efficacy in performing in-space satellite servicing […]

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket will go reusable, with the company aiming for mid-air helicopter recovery
Darrell Etherington

Private rocket launch startup and SpaceX competitor Rocket Lab made a big announcement today: It’ll be looking to re-use the first stage of its Electron rockets, returning them to Earth with a controlled landing after they make their initial trip to orbit with the payload on board. The landing sequence will be different from SpaceX’s […]

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic will be the first publicly traded company for human spaceflight
Jonathan Shieber

The race to become the first publicly traded company dedicated to human spaceflight is over, and Virgin Galactic has won. The company will be listing its shares on the New York Stock Exchange through a minority acquisition made by Social Capital Hedosophia, the special purpose acquisition company created by former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya as […]

India’s first Earth-imaging satellite startup raises $5 million, first launch planned for later this year
Darrell Etherington

Bengaluru-based Pixxel is getting ready to launch its first Earth imaging satellite later this year, with a scheduled mission aboard a Soyuz rocket. The roughly one-and-a-half-year old company is moving quickly, and today it’s announcing a $5 million seed funding round to help it accelerate even more. The funding is led by Lightspeed India Partners, […]

Rocket launch in November will test Purdue-developed drag sail that aims to reduce orbital debris
Darrell Etherington

When space launch startup Firefly’s first planned orbital flight takes off in November, it’ll carry an experimental payload developed by engineers from Purdue University: A drag sail that’s designed to haul a rocket back to Earth once it’s fulfilled its mission and deployed its cargo. Safely deorbiting a spent launch vehicle would mean one less […]

Astroscale ships its space junk removal demonstration satellite for March 2021 mission
Darrell Etherington

Japanese startup Astroscale has shipped its ELSA-d spacecraft to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan, where it will be integrated with a Soyuz rocket for a launch scheduled for March of next year. This is a crucial mission for Astroscale, since it’ll be the first in-space demonstration of the company’s technology for de-orbiting space debris, a […]

Quantum Space picks up speed with $15M in funding for cislunar space vehicles
Aria Alamalhodaei

Cislunar space is quickly becoming ripe for government and civil use. This is particularly true in light of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to establish a permanent human presence on the moon in the long-term. But a ton of critical infrastructure will need to be in place before that happens: everything from communication systems to […] Quantum Space picks up speed with $15M in funding for cislunar space vehicles by Aria Alamalhodaei originally published on TechCrunch

Max Q: Get in loser, we’re smashing a spacecraft into an asteroid
Aria Alamalhodaei

Hello and welcome back to Max Q! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving-slash-holiday weekend. It’s more than a little mind-boggling that we’re reaching the end of 2021, but that only means one thing: TC Sessions: Space is almost here! You can still join us for the two-day event; more details are below. As usual, […]

Legged lunar rover startup Spacebit taps Latin American partners for Moon mission
Darrell Etherington

U.K.-based lunar rover startup Spacebit, a company developing robotic exploration hardware for use on the Moon, announced two new partners that will help it develop and finalize its technology ahead of its target mission date of 2021. The Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency (EXA) and Mexico’s Dereum will be providing the technology that Spacebit will employ […]

Pixxel closes $7.3M seed round and unveils commercial hyperspectral imaging product
Darrell Etherington

LA and Bangalore-based space startup Pixxel has closed a $7.3 million seed round, including newly committed capital from Techstars, Omnivore VC and more. The company has also announced a new product focus: Hyperspectral imaging. It aims to provide that imaging at the highest resolution commercially available, via a small satellite constellation that will provide 24-hour, […]

Aerospace primes Northrop, Lockheed join in Orbit Fab’s over $10M funding round
Aria Alamalhodaei

San Francisco-based startup Orbit Fab wants to be the go-to source for orbital refueling, and now it has raised over $10 million in its quest to get there. The money will go toward funding a refueling trial that’s due to launch as early as the end of 2022, in which the company plans to send […]

Accion Systems raises $42 million in Series C to accelerate development of 4th-gen propulsion system
Aria Alamalhodaei

Space propulsion developer Accion Systems has closed its most significant funding round yet. The company raised $42 million in a Series C led by Tracker Capital, bringing its valuation to $83.5 million. Along with the investment, Tracker Capital also acquired a majority stake in the company. This latest injection of capital will facilitate the development […]

SpaceX reveals more Starlink info after launch of first 60 satellites
Devin Coldewey

Last night's successful Starlink launch was a big one for SpaceX — its heaviest payload ever, weighed down by 60 communications satellites that will eventually be part of a single constellation providing internet to the globe. That's the plan, anyway — and the company pulled the curtain back a bit more after launch, revealing a few more details about the birds it just put in the air.

Astroscale successfully demos in-space capture-and-release system to clear orbital debris
Aria Alamalhodaei

Astroscale hit a major milestone Wednesday, when its space junk removal demo satellite that’s currently in orbit successfully captured and released a client spacecraft using a magnetic system. The End-of-Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration (ELSA-d) mission was launched in March, with the goal of validating the company’s orbital debris removal tech. The demonstrator package, which was […]

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