Loft Orbital, a space infrastructure startup, raised $ 140 million in a new round of funding led by investment giant BlackRock.
The San Francisco-based company launched its first space missions earlier this year, with Loft planning to use the new capital to scale its business and double its team.
“The best way to think of us is to offer space infrastructure as a service,” Alex Greenberg, co-founder and COO of Loft Orbital, told CNBC.
“If you’re a customer with a single payload or a constellation that you want to launch into space, but don’t want to be the one to build or design your own satellite – with the manufacturer, with the launcher, and actually with it to operate once it’s in space – then work with someone like us, “added Greenberg.
The company has raised $ 130 million, including contributions from investors such as CEAS Investments, Foundation Capital, Uncork Capital, Ubiquity VC, and more. Loft also raised an additional $ 10 million from the same investors through convertible bonds, short-term debt that was converted during the round, bringing total equity to $ 140 million.
Loft declined to disclose its rating after the raise.
In addition to San Francisco, Loft also has manufacturing facilities and facilities in Denver, Colorado and Toulouse, France. The company currently employs 70 people, with Loft co-founder and CEO Pierre-Damien Vaujour expecting CNBC to grow the number to around 160 by the end of 2022.
So far, Loft has launched two spaceships – which the company calls YAMs or “Yet Another Mission” – which are currently in orbit, each carrying multiple payloads for customers. Loft has more than 20 customers to date, including NASA, DARPA, the US Space Force, and Honeywell.
Greenberg emphasized that after an order is placed in the aerospace industry, it traditionally “takes between 18 and 36 months for a satellite to be delivered”. But to speed things up, Loft ordered his spacecraft “without knowing what was going to fly on it,” he said.
“It’s almost like an inventory model or a fulfillment center model – where we have the satellites in-house, a customer shows up, we stick them up and send them off to launch,” said Greenberg, adding that the business model means : Loft’s customers “can go into space in a few months instead of a few years if they did it themselves”.