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Max Q: The ghost in the machine

Hello and welcome back to Max Q. Disrupt is finally behind us, which can only mean one thing: We are officially counting down to TC’s Space event in December! Learn more here. In this issue:

  • Kayhan Space presents at Disrupt
  • Report: Investment in space battered by high interest rates, inflation
  • News from SpaceX, Orbex and more

Kayhan Space is making orbit safer with timely, automatic collision warnings for satellites

We’ve covered Kayhan before, but during a presentation at Disrupt the company revealed how it has progressed considerably. The company, which was founded by friends Araz Feyzi and Siamak Hesar, is taking on a growing problem in space: traffic.

“There are a lot of satellite-on-satellite conjunctions; it’s less than 10% today but the paradigm is shifting,” Feyzi told TechCrunch (by “conjunction,” he’s referring to situations when spacecraft orbits overlap). “The sheer number of conjunctions is increasing, because we’re tracking more objects and there are more active satellites — and we expect that to get worse.”

As the number of satellites in the sky grows, operators can no longer rely on the time-intensive solutions they previously used to decrease the odds of an in-space collision occurring. That’s where Kayhan comes in. Click the link above to learn about how they’re attempting to fix this problem.

Kayhan Space pitches in Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco on October 19, 2022. Image Credit: Darrell Etherington / TechCrunch

Kayhan Space pitches in Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco on October 19, 2022. Image Credits: Darrell Etherington / TechCrunch

Investment in space continues to drop, but some sectors more resilient than others, report finds

Private investment in space continues to be battered by larger macro-economic trends, like high interest rates and inflation, but not all sectors of the space industry are affected equally, a new report from New York-based VC firm Space Capital found.

While broader market conditions are disproportionately affecting funding in deep tech — which includes high capex industries like launch and “emerging industries” (think private space stations and orbital debris mitigation) — geospatial intelligence and remote sensing companies are well positioned to withstand these trends, the quarterly report found.

Overall, $3.4 billion was invested in 79 space companies this quarter, representing a 44% decline from the same period last year. While total investment declined, early-stage investments increased by 24% versus the same period. Total rounds also saw a 26% decrease YTD compared to the same quarter last year.

Image Credits: SpaceX

More news from TC and beyond

  • Ariane 6’s first flight has been pushed back to the fourth quarter of 2023, the European Space Agency announced. (ESA)
  • Astra has 200 committed orders for the Astra Spacecraft Engines on the books. (Astra)
  • The Federal Aviation Administration named 21 new members to the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, including representatives from SpaceX, Astra, Relativity Space, Blue Origin and Virgin Orbit. (FAA)
  • Firefly Aerospace added Chris Emerson, the former chairman and CEO of Airbus US, to its board of directors. (Firefly)
  • James Webb Space Telescope did it again. Bravo. (NASA)
  • Orbex, a U.K.-based spaceflight startup, closed £40.4 million ($46.1 million) in funding as it makes a final push to a first orbital flight next year. (TechCrunch)
  • NASA announced the 16 individuals that will form the independent study team examining unidentified aerial phenomena. (NASA)
  • NASA’s Crew-4 returned home. The four-person crew splashed down off the coast of Florida aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule after six months on the International Space Station. (NASA)
  • NASA ordered three more Orion spacecraft from Lockheed Martin for Artemis VI-VIII missions, to the tune of $1.99 billion. (Lockheed Martin)
  • Relativity Space will increase its rocket engine testing footprint at NASA’s Stennis Space Center by 150 acres to support testing of the heavy-lift rocket Terran R’s Aeon R engines. (Relativity)
  • SpaceX’s Falcon 9 completed its 48th launch this year, completely obliterating a once-a-week launch cadence and hitting a new record as the most flown launch vehicle in a year. (Elon Musk)
  • SpaceX withdrew its request to the Pentagon that it fund the ongoing use of Starlink internet terminals in Ukraine, just hours after it was reported that the Pentagon was considering footing the bill using a fund that finances contracts for weapons and equipment for the Ukrainian military. (TechCrunch / Politico)
  • Starlink is coming to commercial airplanes through a partnership with a commercial- and private jet-focused subbrand, Starlink Aviation. (TechCrunch)
  • The White House is exploring bringing Starlink to Iran, where civil unrest is still widespread. First Ukraine, now Iran? (CNN)

Photo of the week

James Webb Space Telescope Pillars of Creation

The iconic “Pillars of Creation” as captured by James Webb Space Telescope. Image Credit: NASA

Max Q is brought to you by me, Aria Alamalhodaei. If you enjoy reading Max Q, consider forwarding it to a friend. 

Max Q: The ghost in the machine by Aria Alamalhodaei originally published on TechCrunch

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