Broadband satellite start up Astranis has announced a $250 million (€208.6m) Series C financing round, valuing the company at $1.4 billion.
The financing was led by funds managed by BlackRock, with significant participation from new investors Baillie Gifford, Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, Koch Strategic Platforms, Monashee Investment Management, and Uncorrelated Ventures. Existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Venrock, Fifty Years, ACE Early Stage Partners, Harpoon Ventures, Indicator Fund, Industry Ventures, Jaan Tallinn, Jeff Dean, Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud, Jude Gomila, Refactor Capital, Rising Tide Fund, SOMA Capital, and others also participated in the round.
The new funding will be used to expand production significantly of Astranis’s microsatellite platform, built to satisfy the significant global demand for affordable broadband. Additionally, Astranis will dramatically accelerate new technology research and development to support its next-generation platforms. That includes the company’s proprietary software-defined radio technology, which increases satellite performance and flexibility, and allows manufacturing at scale, lowering the price point to end-consumers.
Astranis claims its satellites can be deployed at a low cost and be built in months, not years, in contrast to traditional satellites that require hundreds of millions of dollars of capital and five or more years to get new capacity online.
It says the smaller size of its satellites — just 350 kg, or about 20 times less than traditional satellites — and their deployment into geostationary orbit (GEO), allows the company to start providing coverage with just a single MicroGEO satellite and bring capacity online quickly, focusing beams of broadband connectivity right where it’s needed.
“We are solving one of the biggest problems facing the world today,” declared Astranis co-founder and CEO John Gedmark. “Four billion people do not have reliable access to broadband Internet. Getting connectivity to those who need it the most changes lives in a profound way. It empowers people to take control of their health, education, and economic situation. We’re talking about something that is now absolutely part of the base of the hierarchy of needs.”
Astranis has projects in work around the globe to deploy satellites to bring connectivity to some of the world’s most underserved areas. Astranis launched a first test satellite into orbit in 2018 and is now underway with its first commercial programme, a satellite to provide broadband Internet for Alaska that will more than triple the available bandwidth across the state. The satellite is undergoing assembly, integration, and test and is set for a launch later in 2021.