Orbion Space Technology is a Michigan-based manufacturer of in-space plasma propulsion systems. It has raised $20 million in a Series B funding round. The company says that it will use it to scale the production capacity of its Aurora propulsion system.
What exactly does Obrion Space Technology make?
Orbion space technology makes Hall effect plasma thrusters for use in small and cube satellites. Thrusters are used in space objects to help maintain their orbit. For example, the space station. It is used to adjust orbital altitude, avoid collisions and de-orbit the craft once it has reached the end of its useful life. Hall thrusters use a magnetic field to ionize a propellant and produce plasma.
Thrusters are being used in space for a long time now. But, this type of thruster is too expensive for small satellite operators. Startups and developers are increasingly launching satellites to low-Earth orbit. Hence, Orbion claims it has created a cost-effective production capacity to meet the growing demand.
Orbion’s CEO Brad King said in a statement that the company considered contract manufacturers but ultimately chose a vertically integrated manufacturing model. Now, the company says it has outgrown its existing manufacturing space.
According to the CEO, the company is facing unprecedented market demand for its Aurora system. The reason behind this is the boom of the so-called new space economy. Decreased costs of processors, components, and even launches are the drivers of this demand. Therefore, it’s no surprise that there’s been a concurrent uptick in demand for efficient in-space propulsion systems.
The company had previously raised a $9.2 million Series A in August 2019. Since that time, the company secured a research partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense that’s testing the resiliency of American space systems. Orbion also landed a contract with satellite manufacturer Blue Canyon Technologies last September.
The most recent funding round was led by the U.S.-India VC firm Inventus Capital Partners. There was additional participation from Material Impact, Beringea, and Wakestream Ventures.
The space game is changing. Nanosatellites are replacing large satellites; just like the PCs replaced mainframes. Orbion is providing these nanosatellites maneuverability to get into more precise orbits and stay there longer.Kanwal Rekhi, investor in Inventus Capital Partners