NEW ORLEANS — D-Orbit, an Italian company that provides space transportation services, has raised 100 million euros ($110 million) in a Series C round to expand into satellite servicing and other applications.
The company announced Jan. 11 a first closing of a Series C round, led by Japanese company Marubeni Corporation. Also participating in the round is Avantgarde, a family office, along with venture funds CDP Venture Capital Sgr, Seraphim Space Investment Trust, United Ventures, Indaco Venture Partners, Neva SGR Spa and Primo Ventures.
D-Orbit said it expects to bring on additional investors in a second closing of the Series C round later in the first half of the year.
D-Orbit currently provides in-space transportation services using its ION series of orbital transfer vehicles. Those tugs have launched primarily on SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets, such as the Transporter line of rideshare missions. The most recent ION, the 13th overall, was a secondary payload on the Falcon 9 launch of a South Korean reconnaissance satellite Dec. 1.
“This milestone marks a seismic leap in the evolution of D-Orbit,” Luca Rossettini, chief executive of D-Orbit, said in statement about the funding round. The funding, he said, is “solidifying our commitment to revolutionize the space logistics industry.”
D-Orbit plans to use the funding to expand it capabilities from in-space transportation into space cloud computing and servicing. The funding will also go towards enhancing its “operational capabilities” in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The company announced plans nearly two years ago to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition copmany (SPAC) called Breeze Holdings. D-Orbit at the time expected to raise $185 million and value the company at $1.28 billion.
However, in August 2022, D-Orbit and Breeze Holdings called off the merger, with the SPAC citing “substantially” changed markets since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Interest in SPACs, both in the space industry and the overall market, has also cooled significantly in that time.
As part of the SPAC, D-Orbit disclosed revenues of $3.4 million in 2021. In the announcement of the Series C round, the company said it has seen “triple digit yearly revenue growth” since then, but did not disclose specifics. D-Orbit added that the new funding takes it to cash flow profitability.
D-Orbit has been working since calling off the SPAC merger on raising a private funding round. The company announced Nov. 9 that it had lined up Marubeni to be the lead investor in the Series C round. Besides the funding, Marubeni said it would help D-Orbit with business in Japan and Southeast Asia.
Other investors said they saw the potential for D-Orbit to expand beyond in-space transportation. “The growth and potential of the space sector, for example, can only be achieved thanks to companies like D-Orbit developing sustainable in-space servicing and transportation,” said James Bruegger, managing partner and chief investment officer at Seraphim Space, in a statement. “This announcement represents a significant milestone in helping to finance the next stage of the company’s growth strategy.”
Among the new services D-Orbit is considering, according to its funding announcement, is satellite life extension and debris removal. That returns the company to some of its original plans.
“Space debris: it’s a big problem. Investors understand problems. If you have a solution, then there is a business,” Rossettini recalled during a panel at the Italian Space Days event at the Italian Embassy in Washington Dec. 14. “How much money did I raise for space debris? Zero, because no one is paying to remove space debris.”
That led him to pursue other markets, including in-space transportation. “You need to have a vision, but you need to show, step by step, how you get there.”