Xplore says it’s brought in $16.2M so far for ‘Space as a Service’ satellite program

An artist’s conception shows the Xplore’s satellite platform in low Earth orbit. (Xplore Illustration)

In a recap of its first five years of existence, Redmond, Wash.-based Xplore reports that it’s received $16.2 million in venture funding and contracts to support its satellite-based drive to offer “Space as a Service.”

“Xplore employs around 20 people and is actively growing,” Lisa Rich, Xplore’s co-founder and chief operating officer, said in emailed comments to GeekWire. “This funding will help us grow as our programs grow.”

Today’s status report doesn’t provide a breakdown of the funding rounds, but it does note that in addition to venture capital, the startup has brought in roughly $4 million in “non-dilutive funding” over the past couple of years.

That category of funding includes contracts from the U.S. Air Force, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The biggest contract, announced last September, is providing $2 million from National Security Innovation Capital to speed up work on Xplore’s Xcraft satellite platform. NSIC is a hardware development accelerator within the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit.

Xplore also provided a fresh list of its investors, including Alumni Ventures, Brightstone Venture Capital, Gaingels, Helios Capital, Kingfisher Capital, KittyHawk Ventures, Lombard Street, Private Shares Fund, Starbridge Venture Capital and Tremendous View — plus Dylan Taylor, CEO of Voyager Space, who took a suborbital space ride on Blue Origin’s New Shepard spaceship in December.

“A key part of Xplore’s success is the support of our investors, and the trust customers have in our innovative team,” Jeff Rich, Xplore’s co-founder and CEO, said in the status report.

That success hasn’t yet gotten off the ground, however. Xplore, which was founded in 2017, is still gearing up for the launch of its first mission, currently set for late this year. That mission will make use of Orbital Astronautics’ ORB-6 satellite platform to put hyperspectral and high-resolution video imagers into low Earth orbit.

Erik Hammer, managing partner at Alumni Ventures, said Xplore will serve “a variety of customers looking for better ways to capture imagery and data from orbit.”

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“We have been impressed with their technical progress and early commercial traction,” Hammer said.

In her email, Lisa Rich declined to identify a launch provider for the first mission. But for what it’s worth, Dylan Taylor has already reserved payload space on a future Xplore spacecraft. And the investment firm that Taylor heads, Voyager Space, owns a majority stake in Nanoracks — a Houston-based venture that arranges for satellite deployments from the International Space Station and other spacecraft.

In 2020, Nanoracks and Xplore announced a partnership to create satellite rideshare opportunities for commercial deep-space missions.

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