Mangata plans a network of 791 communications satellites split between medium and highly elliptical Earth orbits. Credit: Mangata Networks

SEOUL, South Korea — U.S.-based startup Mangata Networks has raised $33 million from an international mix of investors for its multi-orbit connectivity constellation plans.

The Series A funding round was led by Playground Global, the U.S. venture capital firm which previously led Relativity Space’s $35 million Series B round in 2018

Other participants include U.S.-based early-stage investors MetaVC Partners and Promus Ventures, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek, Scotland’s national economic development agency Scottish Enterprise and South Korean telco KT’s satcoms provider KTSat, Mangata said in a Jan. 11 statement. 

The startup did not disclose how much investment each investor made.

“We are out to change the world, and that requires visionary investors and partners,” Mangata CEO Brian Holz said in the statement. 

“These investors, whose intercontinental representation reflects our own global mission, are championing a new evolution in human connectivity.”

Holz is a former CEO of OneWeb Satellites, the satellite manufacturing joint venture owned by Airbus and constellation operator OneWeb.

Mangata intends to use the proceeds to support plans for a constellation of 791 satellites spread across medium Earth orbit (MEO) and highly elliptical orbits (HEO). 

The Phoenix, Arizona-based venture said it will start deploying ground-based networks as early as 2023, and plans an initial launch of eight HEO satellites to begin partial services in the Northern Hemisphere in 2024.

Holz told SpaceNews in 2020 that another 24 satellites will be launched in 2024 or 2025 to MEO, with later satellite batches added every 12 to 18 months.

Mangata received its first seed funding in 2020 from Bellevue-based Intellectual Ventures’ Invention Science Fund, backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

KTSat participated in the latest funding round to “provide better telecommunications and broadcasting services to customers at home and abroad,” KTSat spokesperson Kim Eun-woo said.

“We have provided services using satellites in geostationary orbit,” Kim told SpaceNews. “We made the investment, expecting that our services will be more stable and reliable services when we do business using satellites in multiple orbits.”

Park Si-soo covers space industries in South Korea, Japan and other Asian countries. Park worked at The Korea Times — South Korea's leading English language newspaper — from 2007 to 2020. He earned a master’s degree in science journalism from Korea...