Unlocking affordable and available satellite servicing for the space industry
Kent, WA – March 9, 2023 – Starfish Space Inc., a satellite servicing company founded by former Blue Origin engineers, announced today that it has raised a $14M funding round led by Munich Re Ventures, with additional participation from Toyota Ventures and existing investors PSL Ventures, NFX, and MaC VC.
Humans have been launching objects to space for over six decades, but the capability to safely and affordably interact with satellites once in orbit has proven far more elusive. This has led to a norm of expensive satellites with finite lifetimes, and the gradual accumulation of space debris. Starfish Space is developing the Otter servicing vehicle to perform satellite life extension and space debris removal missions for the first time ever in an affordable manner. The first Otter vehicles will usher in a new paradigm for how humans go out into the universe around us, ultimately enabling satellite upgrades, orbit maintenance, large structure assembly, and more use cases required for our next generation in space.
Satellites in orbit move at speeds of up to 7 kilometers per second, covering the distance from Seattle to New York in under 10 minutes. Bringing two satellites together to safely dock is an exceedingly difficult engineering challenge, especially because it needs to be done in a robust and reliable manner for recurring servicing missions. Starfish Space’s key technologies are focused on satellite rendezvous, proximity operations, and docking, and have been successfully demonstrated terrestrially. They are now being taken to space with the company’s Otter Pup mission.
The Otter Pup, launching in summer 2023, will attempt the first-ever docking of two commercial satellites in low-Earth orbit. If successful, Otter Pup will also be the first-ever satellite docking mission to solely utilize electric propulsion, and the most affordable satellite docking mission ever completed by an order of magnitude. In addition to serving as a key milestone for Starfish Space’s technical development and growth as a company, a successful Otter Pup mission will mark a historic set of firsts for the space industry, and a meaningful expansion of humanity’s capabilities in space.
“MRV is excited to back this talented team of engineers, scientists, and operators as they aim to open up the in-space economy,” says Peter Ortez, a Principal at Munich Re Ventures. “Otter Pup represents the first step on this journey and the hard work of the team has been clear at every stage.”
The funding raised in this round will allow Starfish Space to accelerate development of the full Otter vehicle, in addition to the Otter Pup mission. In support of these efforts, the company, based in the greater Seattle area, expects to rapidly grow its headcount from a current team of 26 full-time employees. Open positions have been posted across a number of roles ranging from Hardware and Software to Business Development and Operations.
“The progress of Starfish Space over the last year has been incredible to be a part of,” says Trevor Bennett, Co-Founder of Starfish Space. “We still have many challenges in front of us, but the opportunity is clear: there is an amazing potential business using the Otter to pioneer the autonomous and robotic future of space.”
About Starfish Space
Founded by former Blue Origin and NASA engineers, Starfish Space is developing the Otter servicing vehicle to extend the lives of satellites in geostationary orbit and dispose of space debris in low-Earth orbit. Starfish has been recognized by NASA, the U.S. Space Force, and Air Force Research Laboratory for its innovation in satellite servicing technologies. Starfish Space is launching its Otter Pup demonstration mission with the goal of executing the first-ever docking of two commercial satellites in low-Earth orbit in fall 2023. For more information, please visit www.starfishspace.com.
About Munich Re Ventures
Munich Re Ventures (MRV) is the venture capital arm of Munich Re Group, one of the world’s leading providers of reinsurance, primary insurance, and insurance-related risk solutions. With more than $1 billion in assets under management, Munich Re Ventures invests in the most innovative start-ups transforming the future of risk and risk transfer. MRV’s experienced investors are financially-driven while focused on the strategic interests of Munich Re and the broader insurance industry. MRV works closely with Munich Re Group businesses across the globe to fund and partner with the best emerging companies developing new technologies and business models for tomorrow’s world.