Andreessen Horowitz, Shield Capital backs satellite bus startup Apex Space

Satellite shuttle startup Apex Space has closed a $16 million Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz and new investor Shield Capital as it prepares for its first demonstration mission early next year.

In addition to the new capital, Apex also revealed some of the customers that will carry the payload on this inaugural mission: Orbit Fab, a startup developing technology to refuel spacecraft in orbit; the Irish satellite company Ubotica; and a defense first tier that Apex CEO Ian Cinnamon told Root Devices is a “household name.”

Founded by Cinnamon and Max Benassi just nine months ago, Apex aims to change the way satellite buses – the part of a spacecraft that hosts cargo – are made and sold. For the most part, buses are made to order at high cost, with long delivery times. Instead, Apex optimized the design of its first shuttle, a 100-kilogram spacecraft called Aries, for production. This means a standardized product that can be configured to mission needs and delivery times in months, not years.

The Los Angeles-based startup has already begun manufacturing the Aries, which will fly on SpaceX’s Transporter-10 ride-sharing mission in the first quarter of next year. While this first mission features three separate customer payloads hosted simultaneously, this will not be the typical mission profile for future Aries flights. In the future, the buses will be delivered to a specific customer, Cinnamon said, who can choose which cargo is on the mission and when it starts. Aries is designed to support up to 100 kilograms of cargo.

Cinnamon said the goal is to build five more Aries in 2024 and then scale up. He added that the company has already started selling production slots for the next Aries flights, with revenues reaching seven figures.

To support this production cadence, Apex will use some of this Series A funding to open a 50,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in LA, a space the company is calling Factory One.

The inclusion of Shield Capital, a firm known for investing in start-ups at the intersection of commercial and national security, is a strong indication that Apex is looking to strengthen its partnerships with the US government and defense partners.

“We’re a dual-use company,” Cinnamon explained. “From the very beginning, we’ve narrowed down a list of investors who are really focused on helping us sell to the U.S. government.”

Apex has now raised a total of $27 million, including a seed round of $7.5 million last year. Andreessen Horowitz partner Katherine Boyle said in a blog post about the new funding that Apex demonstrates it can move forward quickly.

“Last summer, we led the seed round at Apex with the belief that both commercial companies and the defense industrial base needed aerospace manufacturers that could address component bottlenecks and move faster than previously thought possible,” she said. “After witnessing the speed and demand for their product, we are proud to now co-lead Apex’s Series A less than a year later.”

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