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It's Time to Rev Up the New Space Race, Fundings: Axiom Space, Controlled Thermal Resources, Nodal Power
24 August 2023 - A Weekly Publication by New North Ventures
If it seems like we are talking about space more often, that is for good reason. Every day the newsreel reveals developments that make clear the time for space innovation was yesterday. The recent setbacks faced by Russia's space program, evidenced by their Luna 25 spacecraft failure, underscore the urgency with which the US government needs to ramp up its space investment and innovation efforts. With Russia's space capabilities facing challenges stemming from aging technology, corruption, and leadership issues, it is evident that maintaining and advancing US leadership in space exploration and technology has become more crucial than ever before.
In this context, our recent podcast episode with HawkEye 360 CEO John Serafini gains significant relevance. Serafini's insights into space innovation and company building highlight the potential of public-private collaboration in driving cutting-edge advancements in space technology. As demonstrated by HawkEye 360's work in developing space-based radio frequency (RF) analytics, collaboration between the government and private sector can accelerate innovative solutions to address urgent real-world challenges. By leveraging the expertise and resources resident in disruptive technology companies, the US government can foster a dynamic ecosystem that drives not only technological breakthroughs but also economic growth and national security enhancements.
The timing couldn't be better for the US government to step up its space investment and innovation efforts. By learning from the challenges faced by other nations and harnessing the expertise of visionary entrepreneurs, the US can not only maintain its dominance but also drive the next phase of space exploration, unlocking new opportunities and addressing critical global issues through cutting-edge technology.
The White House released an executive order (EO) banning U.S. private-equity and venture-capital investments in select Chinese technology companies linked to potential military applications.
The EO focuses on key technology areas, including chips, quantum, and potentially AI, with strict prohibitions to prevent IP transfer and technological advancements that could threaten U.S. national security.
The targeted approach of the EO aims to balance national security concerns with maintaining economic partnerships and ensuring effective enforcement.
China's reactions to the EO could impact bilateral talks and reveal the extent of responsible management of the economic relationship between the two countries.
The United States Space Force has activated its first dedicated unit, the 75th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron (ISRS), focused on targeting other nations' satellites and their supporting ground stations.
The unit, under Space Delta 7, will analyze potential targets, track them, and engage in actions like disrupting or destroying adversary satellites and ground stations, contributing to U.S. space intelligence capabilities.
The unit's patch features a grim reaper with a delta-shaped nose, symbolizing historical ties to early U.S. Air Force space initiatives and various space vehicles supporting the military.
The 75th ISRS will also assess counterspace force threats, which include a range of technologies such as ground-based lasers, signal jammers, and cyberattacks aimed at disabling or manipulating satellite systems.
As global military reliance on space-based assets increases, the activation of this targeting unit reflects the evolving strategic importance of space and the growing need for advanced monitoring and engagement capabilities in Earth's orbit.
Russia's Luna 25 spacecraft, set to land on the Moon, experienced propulsion system issues and ended up crashing into the lunar surface, marking a significant failure for Russia's space program.
The loss of Luna 25 reflects the decline of Russia's civil space program under President Vladimir Putin's leadership, highlighting various challenges and setbacks.
Russia's space technology, such as the Soyuz spacecraft and rockets, dates back to the 1960s, with aging hardware that has raised concerns about quality control and modernization.
Putin's efforts to use space achievements for geopolitical prestige have been undermined by corruption within the space industry, budget cuts, and the appointment of unqualified leadership.
The war in Ukraine worsened Russia's space program's situation, leading to severed partnerships with Europe and strained relations with the United States.
Despite previous cooperation with NASA, Russia is turning towards China for future space plans, but this partnership may limit Russia's autonomy and influence on the global space stage.
Key People: CEO Michael Suffredini
Elevator Pitch: An international commercial space station intended to host government astronauts, tourists, private companies, and individuals for research, manufacturing, space exploration system testing, and tourism.
Funding: The company raised $350 million of Series C venture funding in a deal led by Boryung Pharmaceutical Company and AlJazira Capital on August 21, 2023. Other undisclosed investors also participated in the round.
Key People: CEO Rodney Colwell
Elevator Pitch: A lithium extraction company intended to offer renewable energy and deliver sustainable, battery-grade lithium products.
Funding: The company raised $100 million of venture funding from Stellantis on August 21, 2023.
Key People: CEO Bryan Black
Elevator Pitch: Renewable energy company intended to develop power plants and increase utilization of sustainable resources.
Funding: The company raised $13 million of seed funding from Spacestation Investments and other undisclosed investors on August 21, 2023.
Look for a new episode of Securing the Future Podcasts wherever you listen. In our latest episode, we have guest John Serafini sit down with General Partner Jeremy Hitchcock for an engaging conversation where John discusses the dual-use space and outlines ways to optimize the industry for a more secure future.