Astranis raises $90 million in debt and equity ahead of first launch

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WASHINGTON — Astranis, a startup satellite builder aiming to launch and operate a 350-kilogram geostationary communications satellite by year’s end, announced Feb. 13 that it raised $90 million in a debt and equity round led by Venrock and TriplePoint Capital.

Astranis said it would use the new money to finish its first satellite, a broadband “MicroGEO” satellite that will deliver internet to Alaska. 

Venrock led the $40 million Series B equity round, with participation from past investors Fifty Years, Refactor Capital, Y Combinator, and Andreessen Horowitz. 

TriplePoint Capital, an early investor in Facebook and YouTube, is providing a $50 million debt facility.

Astranis, a San Francisco-based venture founded in 2015, has raised a total of $108 million to date.

Astranis CEO John Gedmark told SpaceNews Feb. 13 that some of the new funding would likely be used to expand the 100-person company in anticipation of additional satellite orders. 

“We’ve seen a huge amount of customer interest from companies and customers all over the world,” he said. “Between different customers that we’ve been working with, we easily have 20 to 30 satellites worth of interest in the pipeline. This allows us to begin scaling the company up to be in a position to serve all those needs.”

Gedmark said Astranis will focus solely on 350-kilogram satellites in order to standardize production and speed manufacturing, aiming to eventually reduce an 18-month build time to six months. Astranis is positioning itself as both a merchant manufacturer ready to deliver made-to-order satellites to global and regional operators, and as a turnkey solution for customers that would rather lease capacity than own and operate a satellite. 

Astranis has announced one customer to date — Pacific Dataport, the Alaskan firm that signed on in January 2019 to lease the satellite’s 7.5 gigabits per second of capacity to provide internet service to Alaskans. 

Gedmark said the satellite remains slated to launch during the final quarter of 2020 as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Astranis announced the launch reservation last August. 

Astranis also announced Feb. 13 that Dan Berkenstock, the founding CEO of Skybox Imaging (now part of Planet), and Venrock partner Ethan Batraski, have joined Astranis’ board of directors.