Momentus raises $8.3 million for last-mile spacecraft delivery

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SAN FRANCISCO –Space transportation startup Momentus raised $8.3 million in seed funding for its business to offer satellite operators rides from one orbit to another, the Santa Clara, California, company announced Nov. 14.

“For example, if you are flying with [India’s] Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle to some orbit, Momentus can move your satellite to a different orbit,” Mikhail Kokorich, Momentus founder and president, told SpaceNews. “We are not a propulsion company. We are a service company offering last-mile delivery.”

With the money raised, Momentus plans to demonstrate its Vigoride rocket powered by water-plasma thrusters in orbit in 2019, said Kokorich, a serial entrepreneur.

Prime Movers Lab of Jackson, Wyoming, led the investment round for Momentus, which participated in Y Combinator, a well-known startup accelerator in Mountain View, California. Also participating in the investment round were: Liquid 2 Ventures, One Way Ventures, Mountain Nazca and Y Combinator.

“Momentus has not only developed groundbreaking and efficient water-powered in-space rockets but also validated the massive market demand for their services with hundreds of millions of dollars in Letters of Intent,” Dakin Sloss, Prime Movers Lab founder and general partner, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to back this extraordinary team of seasoned entrepreneurs and space industry veterans in their impressive pace of introducing novel technology to space, which we expect will continue with the upcoming in-space demonstration in the first half of 2019.”

Momentus plans to begin offering in-space transportation in 2020 with Vigoride, a rocket to move payloads as large as 50 kilograms from low Earth orbit to geostationary transfer orbit, geostationary orbit, lunar orbit or other destinations.

In 2020, Momentus plans to begin testing its next-generation Ardoride, a rocket designed to move 180 kilograms from low Earth to lunar orbit or 250 kilograms from geostationary transfer orbit to Mars orbit.

Momentus is seeking to dramatically reduce the price of in-space transportation. “We would like to make it extremely cheap,” Kokorich said. “The ticket price for a 100- to 200-kilogram payload from Earth to low Earth orbit and low Earth orbit to Moon orbit should be below $10 million. I hope we can be way below $10 million.”

Prior to founding Momentus, Kokorich helped established satellite manufacturer Dauria Aerospace, Internet-of-Things startup Helios Wire, ExactFarming, a firm that applies modern technology to agriculture, and Astro Digital, a satellite imagery and analysis company.