LOGAN, Utah — ÅAC Clyde, the company being formed by Sweden’s ÅAC Microtec and Scotland’s Clyde Space, plans to expand through acquisition and to stake a claim in the United States.
“To play an important role in this changing market, the size and amount of resources you can bring to bear are relevant,” Alfonso Barreiro, ÅAC Microtec chief executive, told SpaceNews.
That thinking prompted ÅAC Microtec a firm with about 30 employees to purchase Clyde Space with its 80-person staff in a $35.3 million cash and stock transaction completed early this year.
As the two firms merge their operations, both Barreiro and Craig Clark, Clyde Space founder and chief executive, anticipate further acquisitions to prepare for a wave of orders for cubesat constellations.
For now, customers generally are ordering one, two or four cubesats to demonstrate the services their future constellations will offer. Once they prove their payloads perform as promised, they solicit additional funding from investors.
“It’s a risk-averse approach,” Clark told SpaceNews. “Rather than raising a few hundred million, these guys are able to start off their ventures with a couple million dollars, maybe less.”
So far, the demonstrations are going well, which means entrepreneurs and established companies are likely to return with orders for 20, 50 or 100 cubesats to fill their constellations, Clark said. Fulfilling those orders will require facilities and financial resources not traditionally found in the cubesat industry, which will lead to consolidation, he added.
ÅAC Microtec’s acquisition of Clyde Space is “the first of a number of consolidation maneuvers they would like to make,” Clark said.
The whole aerospace sector is changing, Barreiro said, with some of the world’s largest space companies looking for roles in the small satellite market.
“But how much are the really large ones able to do with their overhead,” he asked. “Can they build satellites for under $1 million? It will not be easy.”
If the aerospace giants cannot fulfill that type of order due to high costs, firms like ÅAC must be ready to build 50 satellites. “That not only costs money but you need the resources to manage a $50 million project,” Barreiro said. “That can’t be done with a few guys.”
ÅAC is looking for acquisitions around the world and particularly in the dynamic U.S. market.
“We want to have a presence in the U.S.,” Barreiro said. “We are actively looking and talking to a number of people to increase our size and our presence in the market.”