An artist’s conception shows an Otter servicing vehicle docked to a larger satellite. (Starfish Space Illustration)
Starfish Space, a startup based in the Seattle area and founded by two former employees of Blue Origin, has raised $14 million in Series A funding to develop spacecraft for satellite servicing. The company plans to use the funds to complete the Otter Pup, a prototype satellite servicing vehicle, and the full-size Otter spacecraft. Otter Pup is set to launch this summer as a rideshare payload on SpaceX’s Transporter-8 mission. If successful, the Otter Pup will use electrostatic-based capture to latch onto a docking target on the space tug.
Starfish Space has raised a total of $21 million in investment, including pre-seed and seed funding rounds, and has received technology development grants from NASA and the US Space Force’s SpaceWERX program.
According to Austin Link, one of the company’s founders, “The technology that [Otter Pup] can demonstrate around satellite rendezvous, proximity operations and docking” is a major focus for the company. The successful launch of Otter Pup will boost confidence in the development of the full-size Otter, which aims to do satellite life extension at scale and less expensively.
As companies like SpaceX, Amazon, and OneWeb fill out their broadband satellite mega-constellations, the ability to rendezvous and dock with other satellites and guide them where they need to go will become more important. Additionally, the Otter system could safely dispose of aging satellites and potentially open up a new frontier for assembly, upgrades, repair, recycling, and mining on orbit.
Peter Ortez, a principal at Munich Re Ventures, which led the funding round, said, “MRV is excited to back this talented team of engineers, scientists, and operators as they aim to open up the in-space economy.”
Via The Impactlab