Hello and welcome to Max Q! Thank you to everyone who came to TC Sessions: Space in Los Angeles on December 6th. I even had the pleasure of meeting a few Max Q readers – that’s right, one of the highlights of the event.
In this problem:
- SpaceX launches defense-focused business line
- Slingshot’s New Funding Round
- News from ispace, Metaspectral and more
The dual-use nature of broadband satellite services was highlighted during the Russian-Ukrainian war, with Ukrainian forces relying in part on SpaceX’s Starlink for communications. It looks like SpaceX has decided to build on that, with the launch of Starshield, a new line of business that will provide “government entities” with secure communications and other services.
The brand, which may be a subsidiary, now sits alongside Dragon, Starlink and Starship on SpaceX’s website, which may reflect its prominence. But a lot about Starshield is still unknown and the company has provided few details so far. We’ll be keeping our ears to the ground on what the business vertical entails in the weeks ahead.
Space is teeming with man-made objects and will likely only get crowded with the continued growth of the space industry. Spacecraft operators have surprisingly little real-time data on where things actually are in orbit, especially relative to each other.
Enter Slingshot Aerospace. The company is building a real-time “digital space twin” so operators can keep their assets safe while in orbit. Investors are certainly paying attention. The company closed a $40.85 million Series A-2 funding, led by Sway Ventures and with participation from C16 Ventures, ATX Venture Partners, Lockheed Martin Ventures, Valor Equity Partners and Draper Associates. Slingshot also received a venture loan for an undisclosed amount from venture lender Horizon Technology Finance.
More news from TC and beyond
- blue origin and Dynetics have each submitted proposals for a NASA Sustainable Lunar Development (SLD) contract. Blue’s team includes Lockheed Martin, Draper, Boeing, Astrobotic and Honeybee Robotics. The winning contractor would develop a lunar lander under the agency’s Artemis program. (Reuters)
- blue origin is still quietly testing New Glenn components at its Kennedy Space Center site, including fairing tests last week. (NASA Spaceflight)
- China is already considering an extension of its Tiangong space station which has just been completed. (NewsSpace)
- Aerospace Dawn, a startup developing a launch system that uses an orbiting space plane, raised $20 million at a valuation of NZ$170 million ($108 million). (Aerospace Dawn)
- dear moon, a Japanese billionaire’s plan to send himself and eight crew members to the moon aboard a SpaceX Starship rocket, now has an all-civilian crew. Crew members include Steve Aoki and “Everyday Astronaut” host Tim Dodd. (End gadget)
- Mangata Networks will open a new space engineering and manufacturing center in Scotland, backed by funding totaling £83.7 million ($102.3 million). (via satellite)
- relativity space The Terran 1 rocket has rolled out of the hangar and is now upright on the launch pad ahead of its first orbital flight. (Relativity)
- SpaceX launched 40 satellites for its supposed competitor, OneWeb, after the latter company gave up using Russian Soyuz rockets. (SCS)
- by SpaceX The Super Heavy Booster 7 prototype returned to the factory after undergoing a number of tests, although the reason is unclear. (Teslarati)
- pristine orbit is delaying its mission from Cornwall, England — the first-ever spaceflight launch from that country — by “weeks,” the company said in a statement. (Tech Crunch)
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