BusinessVC/PE

NorthStar Raises $14.7M Series D

Image: Spire Global

NorthStar Earth and Space, a startup building an in-situ space situational awareness (SSA) constellation out of its home base in Canada, announced yesterday that it clinched a CAD $20M ($14.7M) Series D round. Telesystem Space Inc., the Québec government, and the Luxembourg Future Fund participated. 

“NorthStar’s unique space-based services will provide coverage of significant gaps that were previously inaccessible from ground-based systems,” NorthStar CEO Stewart Bain said in a release. “This represents a significant contribution to the sustainability of the space environment for future generations.”

The view from orbit: NorthStar is working on building out a constellation of 24 satellites called “Skylarks” to map small pieces of debris from orbit. The constellation is designed to be able to identify smaller pieces of debris than what is visible from ground-based observations from its vantage point in LEO all the way out to GEO.

The long road to launch: NorthStar has had bad luck to date getting the first batch of its Skylark satellites to orbit. 

  • The company had originally planned to launch the first three birds with Virgin Orbit sometime in mid-2023, but these were left stranded when the launcher went bankrupt. 
  • It then inked a partnership with Rocket Lab ($RKLB) to launch four Skylarks on Electron this fall, but Electron has been grounded since an anomaly in September.
  • Things could be looking up, though—Electron is expected to return to flight no earlier than Dec. 13, and NorthStar’s satellites are manifested on a launch not long afterwards.

What’s next? With this new round of funding, NorthStar has the cash in hand to get through its first launch in early 2024 and to begin satellite operations. From there, it has its sights set on scaling its operations down on Earth. The company is planning to open a data processing center in Montréal to handle all the data beamed down from its constellation and deliver it neatly to customers.

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