May 26, 2022

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In this release:

  • SpaceX Crew Dragon fleet up to four. limits
  • Funding hyperspectral imaging startup Pixel
  • A week with Chad Anderson of Space Capital

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This is the end of a (short) era. Reuters reported on Monday that SpaceX will no longer build new Crew Dragons, the spacecraft that take humans to and from space, and will instead focus on reusing its already existing fleet of four.

The Crew Dragon is SpaceX’s first manned spacecraft to take its design from the Dragon cargo capsule used to service the ISS. Since its launch in 2020, the Crew Dragon capsule has carried humans into space on five different missions, including Inspire 4, a private crewed mission funded by billionaire Jared Isaacman.

As the company completes production of the Crew Dragon, it has been hard at work building the super-heavy next-generation Starship launch system. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter that the company plans to conduct the first orbital tests of the new spacecraft in May, but the company is still awaiting major regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration before that can happen.

SpaceX Crew Dragon on the launch pad

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon on the launch pad for the Crew 3 mission. image credit: SpaceX

A startup with offices in the US and India, Pixxel has raised $25 million in funding to launch a constellation of satellites that will provide hyperspectral coverage on demand. It aims to send a constellation of six satellites, capable of providing a resolution of five meters, to most of the Earth’s surface approximately every 48 hours.

The money will be used to build and launch satellites, as well as a software platform for customers. Founder and CEO Awais Ahmed said it will be “a general purpose platform with built-in models and analytics.”

The $25 million Series A was led by Radical Ventures with Jordan Noon, Seraphim Space Investment Trust plc, Lightspeed Partners, Bloom Ventures and Sparta LLC.

Black and white image on the left and hyperspectral image on the right of the satellite image of the mountains.

image credit: Pixel

This Week with… Chad Anderson

Chad Anderson is the founder and managing partner of Space Capital, a $100 million young venture capital firm. He also volunteers on the board of directors of the British company Space Catapult and as a member of the board of directors of the non-profit Explorers Club. He is also a member of the US National Laboratory Users Advisory Committee at the International Space Station in Washington DC.

gaming-updates: What are you working on?

Chad Anderson: After the successful $32 million shutdown of Space Capital II last month, we continue to invest heavily. We have more great companies in the pipeline than ever before – we’ve already made eight new fund investments, completed another one this week, and we have a deadline for our next investment. And Space Capital I’s portfolio is starting to see significant growth as our portfolio reaches milestones and our seed investments move into Series B. With three active funds under management, we now support companies at all stages of the business cycle, so much happens and we get a lot of fun.

What happened on the news last week that you can’t even imagine?

In addition to a series of disappointing earnings calls last week, mostly from SPAC aerospace companies, the SEC has proposed rules to overhaul the SPAC by improving disclosure and protecting investors. (TC note: read more here.) The proposal will tighten rules on the forward-looking and often unrealistic growth projections for which SPAC has become notorious. and companies acquired by SPAC, as well as their officers and directors, are liable for misrepresentation or omissions in merger documents filed by SPAC. I think this is a very healthy development and I have thought of all the ways that will improve the health of the category in the long run.

What are you watching this week?

While an orbital launch from South Texas probably won’t take place this week, I’ll be keeping a close eye on progress at Starbase. I visited a production facility/test site/spaceport last week and what’s going on there is amazing. The Super Heavy first stage that SpaceX will use for its first Starship orbital test flight has just moved to the orbital launch pad, so I’m excited to see what happens next. Like many others, I’m looking forward to when they get their launch licenses and test this thing in orbit.

What song is on repeat?

The theme song of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air is “This is the story of how my life was turned upside down…”

More news from TC and more

  • blue original A crew of six was successfully launched into suborbital space Thursday on a New Shepard rocket. This is the company’s fourth manned mission.
  • Federal Aviation Administration SpaceX Final Environmental Assessment PostponedStarbase/Starship Boca Chica has one month left. The new deadline is April 29th. SpaceX won’t be able to launch Starship’s first orbital test until it receives regulatory approval.
  • impulse space engine Closed the initial $20 million led by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. The startup aims to develop transport services in space, including the delivery of last-mile payloads and the removal of space debris.
  • NASA If President Joe Biden’s budget proposal is approved, funding of up to $26 billion for fiscal year 2023 could be $2 billion more than this year. This includes $7.5 billion for Deep Space Exploration Systems, a category that includes the ambitious Artemis program to return humans to the Moon.
  • nervous spaceA Portuguese startup, part of the European Space Agency’s business incubator program, has raised €2.5 million from Armiler Venture Partners to commercialize its space debris monitoring and collision avoidance platform.
  • Rocket Lab Black Sky launched two payloads into orbit on Saturday from its launch site on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand. This is Rocket Lab’s 25th Electron mission and the second Electron mission in 2022.
  • space launch systemNASA’s expensive giant rocket system is starting its weigh-in dress rehearsal. The wet dress rehearsal is the final set of critical tests to determine if the SLS is ready to take to the skies for the Artemis 1 mission to the moon this spring.
  • SpaceX On Friday, the company launched Transporter-4, which delivered 40 payloads to space for customers as part of its popular Orbital service.
  • SPAC: Planet, Astra, Radwire and AST Spacemobile reported results this week. Find them by clicking on the link.
  • synspectiveA Japanese startup has raised $100 million to build a constellation of synthetic aperture radar satellites.
  • Terran Orbital closed its merger with SPAC on Monday and debuted on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker $LLAP, short for “Live Long & Prosper.”

weekly reading

please take a look interesting twitter thread Kevin Bell, Public Servants’ Environmental Liability Advocate. He describes how an informant informed him of a new spacecraft propulsion system that uses mercury, a powerful neurotoxin that, once released, will eventually return to the Earth’s surface. This is an example of how laws and regulations often do not keep up with the pace of technological development.

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