TAMPA, Fla. — British defense firm Qinetiq is selling its Belgian commercial satellite systems division to Redwire, a U.S.-based consolidator of space infrastructure.

Redwire said Oct.3 it plans to buy QinetiQ Space, which supplies small satellites and other instruments for European end-to-end space missions, for 32 million euros ($31.4 million).

It is Redwire’s first acquisition in nearly a year since it bought biotechnology company Techshot in November a few months after going public to raise a war chest for further deals.

Created by private equity firm AE Industrial Partners in June 2020, Redwire has built up a diverse space technology business by snapping up other companies. These include space manufacturing company Made In Space and Deployable Space Systems, which develops spacecraft structures and solar arrays.

Despite poor macroeconomic conditions, Redwire chair and CEO Pete Cannito said the company continues to have an appetite for acquisitions.

“We are entering a multi-decade space competition with China and Russia,” Cannito told SpaceNews via email.

“As a result, despite a negative trending macro-environment across the general economy, demand for space capabilities from both US and international government participants remains strong.”

A challenging macroeconomic environment could also bring more distressed companies to the deal table.

Redwire’s strategic focus areas include orbit servicing and manufacturing, digitally engineered spacecraft, and space domain awareness.

In September 2021, Redwire became a public company by merging with Genesis Park Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, to fuel further acquisitions. 

However, apart from its deal for Techshot and the plan to buy QinetiQ Space, the group has been quiet on the acquisition front since listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

“Inorganic growth has always been a part of the Redwire strategy,” Cannito said.

“We did take time to stop to go public before moving on to our next major acquisition.”

Following a surge of investments in the broader space industry over the last few years, investors have recently raised concerns about the amount of capital raised and the valuations of space companies, including those listed on stock markets through SPAC mergers.

The acquisition of QinetiQ Space “will provide additional revenue diversity, a larger addressable market and deeper relationships with international customers,” Cannito added, and came at “a reasonable valuation to enhance Redwire’s resiliency regardless of future macro-economic uncertainty.”

QinetiQ to focus on home markets

Belgium’s QinetiQ Space recorded 49 million euros of revenue for the year to the end of March and three million euros in profit after taxes. The company has a contracted backlog of 113 million euros for core products that include advanced payloads, small satellite technology, berthing and docking equipment, and space instruments.

Redwire said buying would increase its exposure to European customers, including the European Space Agency and the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO).

Farnborough, England-headquartered QinetiQ said selling the Belgian company will strengthen its focus on its three home countries: The U.K., U.S., and Australia.

QinetiQ also announced plans Oct. 3 to buy Air Affairs, an Australian defense services company, for 53 million Australian dollars ($35 million).

In August, QinetiQ said it had agreed to buy Avantus — a U.S. cyber, data analytics, and software development solutions provider, in a deal valued at $590 million.

Redwire expects to close its QinetiQ Space acquisition later this year, following customary approvals.

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...