Orbit Fab, the Gas Stations in Space™ company, announced that it has raised a seed extension round led by Munich Re Ventures, the strategic corporate venture capital arm of Munich Re Group, one of the world’s leading providers of reinsurance, primary insurance, and insurance-related risk solutions.
The funding will help Orbit Fab achieve its vision of an in-orbit ecosystem for satellite servicing, national security, and space commercialization. Orbit Fab recently announced that it will launch its first fuel tanker, Tanker 001 Tenzing, in the coming year.
“We’re honored to have Munich Re Ventures join the team of investors that understand our vision of the importance of building a refueling infrastructure in orbit,” said Daniel Faber, Chief Executive Officer of Orbit Fab. “Whether for national security, space exploration, or telecommunications, it is no longer acceptable to throw away valuable space assets because they have run out of fuel. A great opportunity is unfolding for the companies that are prepared to support the growing on-orbit servicing ecosystem.”
Last month, Orbit Fab announced that it had signed an agreement with Spaceflight Inc. to launch its first operational fuel depot to orbit in 2021. Tanker 001 Tenzing will store propellant in sun synchronous orbit, where it will be available to satellite servicing vehicles or other spacecraft that need to replenish fuel supplies.
“Having the backing of Munich Re Ventures cements an important relationship for us based on their unique understanding of risk among investors,” said Jeremy Schiel, Chief Development Officer and Co-Founder of Orbit Fab. “Refueling in space is going to be essential to advanced space architectures, and we are a leader in terms of providing capabilities that support next-generation commerce and protection of the space domain.”
Orbit Fab’s fuel depots are designed to sustain spacecraft with a Self-Driving Satellite™ docking kit, known as SPARK, for guiding spacecraft without the need for complex robotic arms. Its Satellite Gas Cap™ fluid transfer interface, known as RAFTI, has been adopted by multiple spacecraft manufacturers to extend the life of their satellites. SPARK and RAFTI were developed in cooperation with 50 companies and organizations and are expected to become the industry’s common cooperative docking and refueling interfaces.
“Munich Re Ventures sees significant value in the Orbit Fab refueling infrastructure as an enabling part of the in-space servicing ecosystem,” said Timur Davis, PhD, Investment Principal at Munich Re Ventures. “The pace of growth of new entrants in the satellite servicing market is a key indicator that there will be demand for a propellant supply in space. Orbit Fab has the talent and technology to meet that need and has already announced its first operational mission.”
Earlier this year Orbit Fab was selected by the U.S. Air Force to fully flight qualify the RAFTI service valve and it received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to test its SPARK docking system. Previously, Orbit Fab successfully demonstrated its propellant storage and delivery systems in an unprecedented private transfer of water to the International Space Station.