#Space Technology

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Blue Origin lofts NASA and student experiments in New Shepard tomorrow morning
Devin Coldewey

The 11th mission for Blue Origin's New Shepard launch vehicle is slated for takeoff Tuesday morning. The craft will be carrying 38 (!) experimental payloads from NASA, students, and research organizations around the world. You'll be able to watch the launch live tomorrow at about 6 AM Pacific time.

From launch to launch: Peter Beck on building an orbital business from scratch
Devin Coldewey

Breaking into the launch industry is no easy task, but New Zealand's Rocket Lab has done it without missing a step. The company has just completed its third commercial launch of 2019, and is planning to increase the frequency of its launches until there's one a week. It's ambitious, but few things in spaceflight aren't.

Vector’s launch business in peril after ‘major change in financing’
Devin Coldewey

Small satellite launch startup Vector has indefinitely shut down operations "in response a major change in financing," the company confirmed. Co-founder and CEO Jim Cantrell has also been pushed out as part of the upset.

Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck is coming to TC Sessions: Space 2020
Devin Coldewey

Over the last few years Rocket Lab has gone from its very first orbital launch to regular commercial missions, with the goal of being the most responsive launch provider on the planet. Founder and CEO Peter Beck will join us at our all virtual TC Sessions: Space event happening on December 16 & 17 in […]

Axiom Space raises $130 million for its commercial space station ambitions
Darrell Etherington

One of the new space startups with the loftiest near-term goals has raised $130 million in a Series B round that demonstrates investor confidence in the scope of its ambitions: Axiom Space, which has been tapped by NASA to add privately-developed space station modules to the ISS, announced the new funding led by C5 Capital […]

SpaceX raises $1.9 billion in largest funding found to date
Darrell Etherington

SpaceX has raised $1.9 billion in new funding, per a filing with the SEC from Tuesday which was first spotted by Reuters. The company had been reported to be in the funding process earlier by Bloomberg, which pegged the post-money valuation of SpaceX at $46 billion following this raise. The new funding for the still […]

Fleet Space Technologies raises $7.35M for its space-based IoT tech
Darrell Etherington

Australian satellite startup Fleet Space Technologies has raised a $7.35 million round of funding to help launch its next generation of nanosatellites, extremely small satellites it employs to delivery Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity to customers globally. Fleet’s satellites are roughly the size of shoeboxes, which are much cheaper and easier to launch than traditional […]

Max Q: Rocket Lab unveils Neutron, plus more private space station news
Aria Alamalhodaei

Hello and welcome back to Max Q! There was a TON of space news this week so I won’t ramble too much, other than to remind you that many of the people mentioned below will be at TC Sessions: Space on the 14th and 15th! That includes Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab, Nanoracks’ Jeffrey Manber, and […]

Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft is lost during historic lunar landing attempt
Devin Coldewey

Israel's SpaceIL almost made history today as its Beresheet spacecraft came within an ace of landing on the surface of the Moon, but suffered a last minute failure during descent. Israel missed out on the chance to be the fourth country to make a controlled lunar landing, but getting 99 percent of the way there is still an extraordinary achievement for private spaceflight.

NASA taps SpaceX, Blue Origin and 11 more companies for Moon and Mars space tech
Darrell Etherington

NASA has selected 13 companies to partner with on 19 new specific technology projects it’s undertaking to help reach the Moon and Mars. These include SpaceX, Blue Origin and Lockheed Martin, among others, with projects ranging from improving spacecraft operation in high temperatures to landing rockets vertically on the Moon. Jeff Bezos-backed Blue Origin will […]

SpaceX kicks off its space-based internet service tomorrow with 60-satellite Starlink launch
Devin Coldewey

As wild as it sounds, the race is on to build a functioning space internet — and SpaceX is taking its biggest step yet with the launch of 60 (!) satellites tomorrow that will form the first wave of its Starlink constellation. It’s a hugely important and incredibly complex launch for the company — and […]

Satellite Vu’s $5M seed round will fuel the launch of its thermal imaging satellites
Devin Coldewey

Earth imaging is an increasingly crowded space, but Satellite Vu is taking a different approach by focusing on infrared and heat emissions, which are crucial for industry and climate change monitoring. Fresh from TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield, the company has raised a £3.6M ($5M) seed round and is on its way to launching its first satellite […]

Techstars doubles down on space with a new Starburst cohort and European space program
Jonathan Shieber

Techstars has got the stars in its eyes, and space on the brain as it doubles down on investment programs that aim to enable the commercial space industry to boldly go where it has never gone before. On the heels of SpaceX’s historic mission last weekend taking astronauts to the International Space Station, the space […]

Hydrosat raises $5M seed round to deliver ground temperature data to customers
Aria Alamalhodaei

A lot of information can be gleaned about a surface area just by taking the ground temperature data. If a crop field is under stress, for example, the ground temperature will be elevated long before there’s any actual indication of the stress on the plant itself, Hydrosat CEO and co-founder Pieter Fossel explained to TechCrunch. […]

SpaceX to acquire satellite connectivity startup Swarm Technologies
Aria Alamalhodaei

SpaceX will be acquiring satellite connectivity startup Swarm Technologies, the first such deal for the 19-year-old space company headed by Elon Musk. Swarm operates a constellation of 120 sandwich-sized satellites as well as a ground station network. The deal would transfer control of Swarm’s ground and space licenses to SpaceX, in addition to any licenses […]

Tesseract makes spacecraft propulsion smaller, greener, stronger
Devin Coldewey

Launch vehicles and their enormous rocket engines tend to receive the lion's share of attention when it comes to space-related propulsion, but launch only takes you to the edge of space — and space is a big place. Tesseract has engineered a new rocket for spacecraft that's not only smaller and more efficient, but uses fuel that's safer for us down here on the surface.

SpaceX contracted by NASA to launch black hole and neutron star research craft
Darrell Etherington

SpaceX has been awarded a new contract by NASA to launch the agency’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, or IXPE. This research spacecraft will study polarized light from sources including neutron stars, pulsar wind nebulae and supermassive black holes, and provide much more imaging than existing space-based observation resources. The mission will help scientists in the […]

Slingshot Aerospace raises $25M to help satellite operators navigate space traffic
Stefanie Waldek

It’s getting a little crowded in low Earth orbit. Between the proliferation of small-scale satellites, massive constellations à la SpaceX’s Starlink, and an ever-growing collection of space junk, launching and operating an orbiting body can feel a bit like playing Frogger. Even the International Space Station has to perform “avoidance maneuvers” on a regular basis. […]

Max Q: No (American) boots on the moon until 2025, NASA says
Aria Alamalhodaei

Hello and welcome back to Max Q! I know I said this last week, but TC Sessions: Space is right around the corner and we’d love for you to join. You can find a sneak peek of the agenda at the bottom of this post. Send tips, comments and reactions to aria.techcrunch@gmail.com. Don’t forget to […]

SpaceX sets new record for most satellites on a single launch with latest Falcon 9 mission
Darrell Etherington

SpaceX has set a new all-time record for the most satellites launched and deployed on a single mission, with its Transporter-1 flight on Sunday. The launch was the first of SpaceX’s dedicated rideshare missions, in which it splits up the payload capacity of its rocket among multiple customers, resulting in a reduced cost for each […]

NSLComm’s first spring-loaded expanding antenna satellite is headed to space
Darrell Etherington

Space tech startup NSLComm is gearing up to put its first satellite into orbit, aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket launching this Friday at 1:42 AM ET. Not only is the launch a first for the company, but it’s also the first deployment of a new kind of satellite technology, and expandable antenna solution created by […]

Japanese startup ispace raises $46M to support planned moon missions
Aria Alamalhodaei

Japanese startup ispace has raised $46 million in a fresh round of Series C funding as it looks to complete three lunar lander missions in three years. The funding will go toward the second and third of the planned missions, scheduled for 2023 and 2024. The first mission, which ispace aims to conduct in the […]

Chinese space station Tiangong-2 is about to burn up over the Pacific
Devin Coldewey

The final hours for China's Tiangong-2 space station are at hand, as the 8-ton piece of hardware will fall to earth, or rather sea, some time in the next 20 hours or so in a controlled deorbit manuever.  But unlike with its predecessor, it isn't a mystery where this particular piece of space debris is going to fall.

Fresh off dramatic majority shareholder exit, Firefly could be headed for a SPAC
Kirsten Korosec

Firefly Aerospace’s rollercoaster ride could soon send the rocket startup to the public market via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, a recent filing with the FCC suggests. Aerospace private equity firm AE Industrial Partners (AEI) announced last month that it had reached an agreement to acquire a “significant stake” in Firefly after […]

Small rocket launch startup Firefly teams up with Aerojet Rocketdyne
Darrell Etherington

In a perfect example of a small, new space startup teaming up with a legacy industry heavyweight with plenty of experience, Firefly is teaming up with Aerojet Rocketdyne. Firefly Aerospace was founded in 2013, and has raised $21.6 million so far to bring its first product, the Alpha small satellite launch vehicle, to market. Firefly […]

Orbit Fab raises $3M to make orbital refueling easier, cheaper and more accessible
Darrell Etherington

Orbit Fab, one of the companies competing in this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield in San Francisco this week, has closed a seed round of $3 million. The funding comes from Type 1 Ventures, TechStars and others, and will help Orbit Fab continue to build on the great momentum it has already bootstrapped with its space-based […]

Rocket startup Firefly signs satellite constellation launch mission with Satlantis
Darrell Etherington

Rocket launch startup Firefly Aerospace has signed a new agreement with Satlantis, a maker of Earth observation and remote sensing payloads for satellite-based operation. Firefly will launch a constellation of small satellites on behalf of Atlantis that will provide high-res, multispectral imaging of Earth from low-Earth orbit. Firefly is still in the development and testing […]

Satellite Vu prepares to launch its thermal imaging satellite constellation with $21M A round
Devin Coldewey

Equipped with $21M in new funding, Satellite Vu is almost to send up its initial seven-satellite constellation in 2023 and begin its planned thermal monitoring of the planet. The company’s orbital view of heat and cold could lead to serious economic insights — and insights of other kinds, as hinted by the addition of Lockheed […]

Zenno Astronautics wants to move spacecraft around using electromagnets, not fuel
Aria Alamalhodaei

It’s easy to think about satellites as a bunch of mini-moons, orbiting the Earth seamlessly and without any (noticeable) movement. But that’s not quite right: satellites and other spacecraft often require fairly continuous tweaks to their positions in orbit. Historically, the aerospace industry has relied on thrusters, or a combination of reaction wheels and magnetic […]

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine explains how startups can help with Artemis Moon missions
Darrell Etherington

At this week’s International Astronautical Congress, where the space industry, international space agencies and researchers from around the world convene to discuss the state of space technology and business, I asked NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine about what role he sees for startups in contributing to his agency’s ambitious Artemis program. Artemis, named after Apollo’s twin […]

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