A couple years ago, it seemed like funding was skyrocketing for every startup sector on Earth — and some looking beyond our planet, too.
Investment in spacetech, spanning satellite networks, launch technologies and even space travel offerings, was running high. That coincided with some closely watched public market exits, including SPAC offerings from commercial spaceflight provider Virgin Galactic and launch services provider Virgin Orbit in 2019 and 2021.
Unfortunately for public investors, things haven’t worked out as hoped. On Thursday, Virgin Orbit announced it is cutting 85% of its workforce, or about 675 employees, after failing to secure new funding to support continued operations. Shares plunged to around 23 cents on Friday, down about 98% from their post-offering peak.
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Other spacetech companies that took the SPAC route to market have also seen their share prices beaten down. This includes launch services provider Astra, rocket system developer Rocket Lab, space infrastructure developer Redwire, and Virgin Galactic, which are all trading well below their initial offer prices.
To date, public market woes haven’t translated into a shutoff in venture funding to the space. So far this year, spacetech-related companies have pulled in over $480 million in venture funding, per Crunchbase data. The year’s largest funding recipient, Munich-based satellite launch service Isar Aerospace, announced just this week that it secured $165 million in Series C investment.
To get a broader sense of where spacetech funding is going, we pulled together a list of 64 companies in the industry that have raised venture or seed funding in the past two years:
Overall, companies on our list have raised $21.7 billion in equity funding to date, no small sum. Of course, the total would be much lower if one took out SpaceX, which alone has landed over $8 billion in equity financing since its inception in 2002.
After SpaceX, the next-highest funding recipient is OneWeb, which has secured $4.7 billion to build a global space-based communications system, and Sierra Space, which raised $1.4 billion to develop technology to enable more people to live and work in space. Per Crunchbase, both companies last raised funding in 2021.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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