Starbridge raises $12M in fresh capital for application-focused space startups 

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NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Starbridge Venture Capital is set to announce Sept. 8 that it has closed its second investment fund with $12.1 million in new capital.

Michael Mealling, Starbridge’s chief operating officer, said Sept. 7 that the firm is looking to invest in early-stage space sector companies “with some proof of product-market fit.”

During a space investment roundtable at the Satellite 2021 conference here, Mealling said Spacebridge looks for startups with compelling applications, “very protectable IP” and “the ability to go into the marketplace and say, ‘no one [else] can do this.’” 

Starbridge’s existing investments include commercial spaceflight startup Axiom Space and satellite-to-cellphone connectivity venture Lynk Global.

Mealling told SpaceNews that Starbridge has already “made investments out of its $12.1 million Fund II and will be making new investments within the next few days.”

Starbridge, which generally writes checks for $1 million or less, is not likely to invest its new capital in any of the numerous startups developing satellite launchers. 

“We avoid launch,” Mealling said during the space investment roundtable. “We also tend to avoid the small spacecraft component market because the margins are so tight and there’s a lot of competition. It’s very difficult to differentiate on reaction wheels.”

While Starbridge isn’t bullish on launch startups, Mealling said there’s one launch-related market niche “that we are paying attention to, and that is gentle downmass and small payload [delivery] — basically, the bizjet market for launch.” He cited Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser rocket-launched spaceplane and Radian Aerospace’s envisioned rail-launched spaceplane as good examples of this niche.