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Quantum Space raises $15 million for cislunar spacecraft

I t goes without saying that there is never a convenient time to have a launch failure, but the Jan. 30 Sea Launch mishap that destroyed SES New Skies' NSS-8 satellite was particularly ill-timed.

WASHINGTON — Quantum Space has raised $15 million to further development of the first in a constellation of satellites intended to provide services in cislunar space.

Quantum Space said that Prime Movers Lab invested $15 million in a Series A round in the Rockville, Maryland-based company. The funding will support development of its QS-1 spacecraft the company announced in October it is building for launch in 2024 to cislunar space.

Prime Movers Lab is a venture fund that has invested in several space companies, including commercial space station developer Axiom Space, megaconstellation startup E-Space and space tourism company Space Perspective. Both Axiom Space and Quantum Space were founded by Kam Ghaffarian.

“Kam is a visionary entrepreneur who we’ve wanted to partner with again since investing in some of his previous endeavors,” Anton Breve, a partner at Prime Movers Lab, said in a statement. “We believe Quantum Space will play a critical role in establishing the infrastructure to support humankind’s expansion beyond Earth.”

In an interview, Steve Jurczyk, president and chief executive of Quantum Space, said the funding from Prime Movers Lab will make up most of the Series A round the company expects to close by the end of the year. Two other investors will provide about $1 million each to complete the round.

That funding will advance work on the QS-1 spacecraft, being provided by Blue Canyon Technologies, and its space situational awareness payload from GEOST, to the critical design review level. It will also fund purchases of long-lead items needed to keep the mission on track for an October 2024 launch.

QS-1 is the first spacecraft in a constellation called QuantumNet that the company projects developing in cislunar space, also known as xGEO. The company foresees having more than 40 of what the company calls Scout spacecraft in service by 2032 throughout cislunar space. Those spacecraft will carry a variety of payloads, including communications, navigation and space situational awareness.

QS-1 will launch as a rideshare payload, Jurczyk said, but future spacecraft will be delivered through an in-space transportation vehicle called Ranger that the company is also developing, capable of carrying four Scouts.

“Starting in late ’25, and every year thereafter, we plan on delivering four Scouts via this Ranger vehicle to xGEO and to various locations like Lagrange points and other orbits to provide space domain awareness and other capabilities in that very large volume of space,” he said.

Quantum Space is seeing strong interest in both the Scout satellites for providing various services, and the Ranger transportation vehicle, particularly from governments. That interest includes from those interested in a communications network around the moon to support lunar exploration activities.

Jurczyk said Quantum Space brought in Prime Movers Lab as an investor in part because of that fund’s part work with Ghaffarian but also because of other support it can provide. “They’re also going to help us with recruiting the talent that we need. They’ll help us particularly with some hard-to-recruit skill areas,” he said. The company currently has 20 employees with plans to hire a dozen more by the first quarter of next year.

Prime Movers Lab will also help Quantum Space identify new investors for a Series B round planned for next year, he said, which will support completion of QS-1 and future projects. The company is still determining how much it will seek to raise in that round.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree...