Spaceflight Industries is raising more cash as satellite deals heat up on the final frontier

Alan Boyle
One of Spaceflight Industries’ most notable projects was the launch of 64 satellites aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in December 2018. (SpaceX Photo)

Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries, which has taken on a string of high-profile satellite missions over the past year, is in the midst of a new funding round, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Nov. 14 filing indicates that nearly $39.5 million of the offered amount has been sold to 33 investors, leaving $389,580 remaining in the round.

We’ve reached out to Spaceflight Industries for comment on the filing, and will update this report with whatever we can pass along from the company.

Founded in 2010, Spaceflight Industries has two subsidiaries: Spaceflight Inc., which handles pre-launch logistics for small satellites; and BlackSky, which is building a satellite constellation to flesh out its geospatial data service.

Both subsidiaries have been in the news lately: Spaceflight is arranging the launch of a Japanese shooting-star satellite from New Zealand later this month, which would mark the latest in a series of rideshare missions. Spaceflight’s biggest moment came last December when it helped send 64 satellites to orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

BlackSky, meanwhile, has four Global satellites in orbit for its Earth-observation constellation, and it’s aiming to have four more launched within the next few months. Just this week, the subsidiary announced that it’s receiving $50 million in financing from Intelsat, a leading telecommunications satellite operator, to build up its infrastructure and boost a strategic relationship.

It’s not clear exactly what the new funding would be used for, but it’s a safe bet that Spaceflight Industries is boosting its capital to execute on its ambitions. The company has also gone through some financial restructuring over the past year.

Last year, Spaceflight Industries completed a $150 million Series C investment round that was tied to cooperative agreements with two European aerospace companies, Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio. One result of those agreements was a satellite-manufacturing joint venture between Spaceflight Industries and Thales Alenia Space called LeoStella, which is producing the spacecraft for BlackSky.

Other backers of Spaceflight Industries have included Vulcan Capital, the investment company created by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen; PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management; RRE Ventures; Razor’s Edge Ventures; and Mitsui Co. Ltd.

The list of directors included in the Nov. 14 filing suggests that some of those backers are participating in the newly reported funding round as well. The named directors include:

  • William Porteous, general partner and chief operating officer of RRE Ventures.
  • Ajay Royan. managing general partner of Mithril Capital Management.
  • Mark Spoto, co-founder and managing director of Razor’s Edge Ventures.
  • Alan Kessler, a board member and adviser to Thales Defense & Security, which is a corporate cousin of Thales Alenia Space.

One of the named directors, Shawn Dougherty, hasn’t shown up in previous filings.

The filing also mentions Brian O’Toole, who’s a director as well as president of Spaceflight Industries and CEO of BlackSky; Brian Daum, CFO and COO for Spaceflight Industries and BlackSky; and Eric Kronman, the general counsel for those two business entities.

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