Qunidar has developed a mission management software-as-a-service platform that can handle operations of constellations of satellites. Credit: Qunidar

WASHINGTON — A startup has raised $2.5 million in seed funding to further development of a software system to make it easier for companies to operate satellite constellations.

Quindar announced Jan. 24 it raised the $2.5 million seed round from Y Combinator, FCVC, Soma Capital and Liquid 2 Ventures. The company had recently participated in Y Combinator, the well-known Silicon Valley startup accelerator.

Nate Hamet, co-founder and chief executive of Quindar, said the funding would allow the company to hire more engineers to support its key product, a software-as-a-service system that can handle most aspects of the design and operation of satellite constellations, saving companies the time and money they would ordinarily have to spend to develop their own control systems.

Hamet and his five co-founders met while working at OneWeb, where they helped develop that broadband megaconstellation’s operations systems. “It takes years. It costs a lot of money,” he said, leading them to consider offering a software platform that can handle satellite operations as a service, modeled on Amazon Web Services and similar platforms.

Doing so can allow companies to speed development of their systems. “If we can enable startups to remove a year or two that they would have to do some of this development and integration that gives them the opportunity to focus on their value proposition,” he said.

Quindar’s software can support the design and testing of satellite constellations, as well as operations of satellites once launched. That includes working with ground station providers to arrange communication passes and performing incident monitoring on satellites.

Hamet said the software is designed to scale to support very large constellations as well as multiple fleets of satellites by the same company. The company has not disclosed pricing, but he said it offers a discount to startups yet to launch their first satellite, and that pricing does not scale linearly as the constellation grows.

Quindar has several customers, which he said the company will announce in the coming weeks. The company has focused on startups, but is building its software to meet federal cybersecurity standards to be able to later also serve government users.

Going through Y Combinator helped the company refine its approach to the software. “We got into Y Combinator with an idea,” he said. “We weren’t business-minded, and we quickly realized that although we have operated satellites before, and we have designed the systems and the ground software to operate those satellites, that it’s our customers that we need to focus on, their current pain points.”

That also helped them attract investors for their seed round. Hamet said the round was oversubscribed. “We can stay pretty lean” as a software company, he said. The company is “remote-first,” he said, meeting in person quarterly, with additional benefits to support its staff working from home.

That funding will also be useful as the company looks at potentially tight capital markets in the near future. “Especially in these markets, it also means that we have a pretty good runway to get the product started and to be able to grow the team as we grow our business,” he said, estimating that the funding would support the company into 2025.

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 with honors in geophysics and planetary science...