NorthStar raises $15 million for debris-tracking satellites while waiting for Rocket Lab

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NorthStar Earth and Space, a Canadian company, has recently secured an additional $15 million. This funding will support the launch of its first four satellites. These satellites are designed for tracking objects in orbit. The latest investment brings the company’s total funding to 143 million Canadian dollars (about $105 million). This funding follows a Series D round and is intended for developing a space situational awareness (SSA) business.

Initially, NorthStar planned to launch satellites with Virgin Orbit. However, Virgin Orbit’s bankruptcy in April disrupted these plans. The company then turned to Rocket Lab for a fall launch. Unfortunately, Rocket Lab faced its own setbacks. A failed September mission delayed NorthStar’s launch plans. Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket failed to deploy an imaging satellite for Capella Space, leading to a halt in operations.

Rocket Lab has since completed an investigation into the failure. They expect to resume launches from New Zealand by December 13. NorthStar’s satellites, meanwhile, are being prepared in Glasgow, Scotland. They will soon be shipped to New Zealand for launch.

The recent financial boost for NorthStar comes from various sources. Telesystem Space, a Canadian technology fund, contributed, alongside the governments of Quebec and Luxembourg. This investment reflects confidence in NorthStar’s SSA services. These services will track objects as small as five centimeters in low Earth orbit and 40 centimeters in geostationary orbit.

NorthStar’s satellites are notably large, each equivalent to 16 cubesats. The agreement with Spire Global, a satellite provider, includes options for up to 30 spacecraft. This capability could significantly enhance the frequency of object tracking in space. With two additional Rocket Lab missions planned, NorthStar aims to provide comprehensive commercial SSA services.

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