SC 33 - Connor

#SpaceWatchGL Venture Space – May 2024

by Connor Sattely

SpaceWatch.Global is on a mission: to share with you every single space-tech deal globally, every month. We transparently show who’s included, and who’s not included in our list and explain why.

Image credit of Nikoleta Mougkasi

Five years ago, a pace of $270m per month in venture investment in the space industry would have been ground-breaking. In 2024, it’s a down month: the second lowest month of the year in terms of venture investment.

Still, if the current flow of venture capital into the space industry continues at the rate of the first five months of the year, $7.6b of venture capital will have flowed into space-tech startups by the end of 2024. This would put it on pace for recent years’ totals, even with an overall tight funding environment exiting 2023.

Of particular note this month is India’s Pixxel, working on hyperspectral Earth observation via a smallsat network, who raised $36m from Google and other investors. Founder and Chief Executive Awais Ahmed claims (via Reuters) that the investment makes Pixxel the “most valued space tech company in India” as a result of the investment. It fits within a broader story of the rise of the Indian space-tech startup sector: Indian startup space T-Hub, who launched a space-tech incubation/acceleration programme in December, also announced this month the launch of a new funding programme for space-tech entrepreneurs.

Deal of the Month

Our Deal of the Month for May is Privateer, a US-based startup with a bold mission statement: “The future of space for the future of us.”

The round is a simultaneous fundraise and acquisition – since Privateer is using a portion of the $56.5m raise to acquire Orbital Insights. The concept: combine Orbital Insight’s TerraScope analytics platform with Privateer’s Wayfinder data engine, bringing together data and intelligence across all domains, from sea to space.

“Integrating a ten-year-old company in a fundraise plus acquisition takes a long time” Declan Lynch, Chief Revenue Officer, told SpaceWatch.Global. “But it’s encouraging – there’s amazing talent and tech joining the team, a lot of excitement and energy, and the expectations here are motivating and energizing.”

Some noteworthy names involved in this transaction – Privateer’s co-founder Steve Wozniak, and amongst other investors, the Winklevoss twins – means that the fundraise caught headlines in the general press beyond the norm for a space-tech Series A.

“There’s certainly some credibility that comes when people know your founders, and when people know your founder” said Declan. “Woz is of course an interesting character, and also a passionate tech leader who allows us to transition into a growth path.”

The round was led by Aero X Ventures with other investors including Lux Capital, BOKA Group, Starburst Ventures, and the Winklevoss twins, among others.

All deals in May 2024, by $ (descending)

  • Beijing Aerospace Yuxing Technology (China) – satellite ops – raised RMB500m.
  • Privateer (USA) – data infrastructure for sustainable space activities – raised $56.5m.
  • Pixxel (India) – hyperspectral EO via smallsats – raised $36m.
  • Deep Blue Aerospace (China) – reusable rocket technology – raised RMB200m.
  • Xona Space (USA) – PULSAR, reinvention of GPS – raised $19m.
  • Nara Space Technology (South Korea) – micro-satellites – raised ₩20m.
  • Infinite Orbits (France) – satellite life extension support – raised €12m.
  • Benchmark Space Systems (USA) – in-space mobility solutions – raised $6.791m.
  • Oxford Space Systems (UK) – deployable smallsat antennas – raised £4m.
  • Danti (USA) – AI-driven search tool for earth observation data – raised $5m.
  • Rollup (USA) – software for complex hardware engineering – raised $5m.
  • Touch Sensity (France) – Materials health monitoring – raised €3m.
  • NoPo Nanotechnologies (India) – single-walled carbon nanotubes – raised $3m.
  • Revolv Space (Italy/Netherlands) – smallsat mechanisms, solar arrays – raised €2.6m.
  • Sequana (Germany) – soil-based carbon removal – raised €2.1m.
  • Blue Water Intelligence (France) – world-scale hydrological forecasts – raised €2m.
  • Aurora Avionics (UK) – off-the-shelf avionics for launch – raised £320km.
  • TETMET (France) – adaptive spatial lattice manufacturing – raised €100k.

Raised an undisclosed amount:

Estimating the size of the Spacetech industry:

SpaceWatch.Global estimates that so far in 2024, 122 space-tech companies have raised a total of approx. $3.16b of venture equity funding.

The fine print:

We’ve dug into each of these deals. What will they use the funding for? Who are the funders? If you’re an investment wonk and want this information, get in touch: [email protected].

Did we miss your investment? If so, compose an angry e-mail to [email protected] and we’ll fix the mistake.

SpaceWatch.Global includes deals that:

  1. Are space-tech investments made in this month only;
  2. involve equity-based venture funding.

One great source of space-tech funding information is the Dealroom/ESA Space Tech Dashboard. As a way of triangulating whether SpaceWatch.Global is accurate relative to industry estimates, each month we compare our list to theirs. 

This month, Dealroom’s lists 17 space-tech VC deals worth $228.9m, and 14 other deals that are outside our scope for space-tech (9 deals, including for instance helicopter companies, ground-based organ manufacturing, or AR/VR gaming apps) or are not venture capital (5 deals, including for instance post-IPO public stock purchases).

In comparison, SpaceWatch lists 22 space-tech VC deals done in April worth $270m. The deals missed by Dealroom, as of publication, are Pixxel (India), Rollup (USA), and Blackstar Orbital (USA).

Dealroom estimates that as of the end of April 2024, 166 space-tech companies have raised a total of approx. $1.772b.

Spacewatch.Global estimates that 122 space-tech companies have raised a total of approx. $3.16b.

Connor Sattely – Courtesy of the author

Connor Sattely is an entrepreneur and startup advisor working in startup ecosystems all over the world since 2012. His monthly column for SpaceWatch.Global covers the world of venture capital in spacetech. Based in Amsterdam, he’s passionate about supporting startup founders as they grow and build their dream companies. He has launched startups in Switzerland, Uganda, and the Netherlands, and has advised founders in more than 50 countries. You can sometimes find him around Amsterdam playing the tenor saxophone with one of his bands.

Check Also

The Space Café Podcast #111: Bold Dreams – from Gourmet Chef to leading NASA’s Innovation Marathon

In this episode of the Space Cafe Podcast, Markus delves into the extraordinary journey of Leka Hattori, from being a world-class chef to leading NASA's Space Apps Challenge. They discuss the significance of following one’s dreams, the impact of solitude and self-reflection, and the innovative potential unlocked through NASA's global hackathons.