Starfish Space raises $14m for Otter satellite servicing vehicle
The funding round was led by Munich Re Ventures, with participation from Toyota Ventures and existing investors PSL Ventures, NFX, and MaC VC.
It will, says the company, allow it to speed development of its full Otter vehicle, in addition to an Otter Pup mission. It expects to grow its headcount from a current team of 26 full-time employees, with openings ranging from Hardware and Software to Business Development and Operations.
The first Otter Pup, launching in summer 2023, will attempt the first docking of two commercial satellites in low-Earth orbit solely using electric propulsion, the company highlights.
It will attempt to rendezvous with Launcher’s Orbiter satellite, using an “electrostatic capture mechanism” – it will dock, before separating and running further tests. The plan is then to build on Otter Pup with the building of a fill-sized Otter servicing vehicle.
The company says its key technologies involve satellite rendezvous, proximity operations, and docking, and have already been demonstrated terrestrially. The Otter vehicle is intended to enable satellite upgrades, orbit maintenance and large structure assembly, for example.
In the context of a growing problem with space junk, commercially affordable space debris removal is the ultimate goal.
“The progress of Starfish Space over the last year has been incredible to be a part of,” said co-founder Trevor Bennett. “We still have many challenges in front of us, but the opportunity is clear: there is an amazing potential business using the Otter to pioneer the autonomous and robotic future of space.”
Based in Kent, Washington State, in the greater Seattle area, the company was founded by former Blue Origin engineers.
See also: DARPA’s in-space satellite servicing robot gets to grips with testing