According tomedia TechCrunch, YC-backed Astranis has raised $90 million in debt and equity financing in a B-round of financing led by Venrock, and its existing investors (and their chief of funding for 2018) Andreessen Horowitz has made a huge contribution. The money will be used to help the company launch its first commercial satellite, the cornerstone of its future Internet service offerings aimed at connecting the vast market for underserved people around the world.
Astranis completed a $13.5 million Round A financing led by Andreessen in 2018 and revealed its plans to use low-cost, reliable Internet access to geostationary satellites, unlike the growing number of participants planning to deploy large satellite Internet competitions. Satellite constellations entering low-Earth orbit do not remain at fixed points relative to specific locations on Earth, but switch their connections through a relay system through a ground station to provide continuous service.
The geostationary model used by Astranis is somewhat similar to the existing way of providing an Internet connection from space, using a very large communications satellite moored in geostationary orbit quite far from Earth. Astranis’s novel method uses small satellites that are 1/20th the size of conventional satellites and weigh about 770 pounds, while traditional satellites weigh more than 14,000 pounds.
Astranis’ proprietary hyper-band software-defined radio technology makes it possible to use smaller satellites, using digital and analog technologies to provide better bandwidth services on smaller, simpler hardware. Not only do these save a lot of space, but they can also be built and launched, whereas in the past large geostationary telecommunications spacecraft have had a turnaround time of only a few months, not years.
As mentioned earlier, this is a combination of debt and equity financing, including a $40 million equity financing involving Y Combinator and others other than Venrock and Andreessen. The remaining $50 million in debt financing came from TriplePoint Capital. Astranis will look for opportunities to develop its Internet service provider partnerships this year and next and expand its relationships with the government and the industry as a whole.
Astranis signed an agreement last year with spaceX, a launch service provider, to launch the company’s first commercial satellite, with the goal of completing the mission as early as the fourth quarter of 2020. The company has raised $108 m so far, but its powerful rivals are looking forward to the same opportunities, including SpaceX’s Starlink and Amazon’s Kuiper.