Starfish Space, a Seattle-based startup developing satellite servicing spacecraft, has raised a $14M Series A round led by Munich Re Ventures. Toyota Ventures also participated in the round, along with existing investors PSL Ventures, NFX, and MaC VC.
Servicing for cheap: Starfish has a grand vision of a future economy in Earth orbit where satellites can be fully serviced and refueled as needed, and for cheap. The first step to reaching that future is to dock with a satellite in orbit—a goal that has previously taken hundreds of millions of dollars to achieve.
Starfish had previously raised ~$8M from VCs and won a handful of NASA and DoD contracts, collectively fully funding its first on orbit demonstration. Cofounder Trevor Bennett told Payload in November that to keep its services cheap, the company’s servicer will need to utilize autonomous, software-driven technology and off-the-shelf components.
The first demonstration: The startup’s first mission, Otter Pup, is scheduled to launch this summer. The spacecraft, a lite version of the planned Otter craft, will deploy from Launcher’s Orbiter, maneuver to a safe distance away, then return for a series of docking maneuvers.
- If successful, the mission would mark the first docking between two commercial satellites in orbit.
- “Most recently, the satellite passed thermal testing, and is headed into vibration testing,” Ari Juster, Starfish strategy and operations lead, told Payload via email.
What’s next? Starfish is currently developing its Otter vehicle, which will use the lessons learned from Otter Pup to perform more sophisticated servicing operations in orbit.
“The funds raised in this round will be used to accelerate the development of the first commercial Otter vehicles,” Juster said. “We anticipate raising further capital in the future to support ongoing manufacturing and launch of commercial Otter vehicles.”
The startup currently employs 26 full-time employees and is planning to expand headcount significantly in the coming months with this funding round.