Sending data to and from different spots on Earth is big business for satellite operators, but Cloud Constellation sees a lucrative opportunity to offer satellites as the ultimate cloud storage solution for sensitive data.
The Los Angeles-based startup, now approaching the third anniversary of its founding, has a way to go to fulfill that dream.
In September, Cloud Constellation signed a launch agreement with Virgin Orbit for 12 LauncherOne missions, and has a memorandum of understanding with Space Systems Loral to build a dozen satellites for the purpose of ultra-secure data storage in space.
But Cloud Constellation, which raised $5 million about 18 months ago in a Series A funding round, says it needs $480 million to really get going. Complicating matters, co-founder and CEO Scott Sobhani, who had been diagnosed with brain cancer, died in July.
“Scott was 53 years old,” said Cliff Beek, who moved up from president to CEO after Sobhani’s death. “The impact on Cloud was emotional, he was a wonderful human being. Anyone blessed enough to have been in his orbit truly misses him.”
Beek, who joined Cloud Constellation as president shortly after the company incorporated in 2015, took over Sobhani’s day-to-day responsibilities in August 2016.
Cloud Constellation’s launch goal for its first satellite has slipped by a year to late 2019, and could end up in 2020, Beek said. He attributed the delays not to Sobhani’s passing, but to a redesign of the constellation, called SpaceBelt, from 16 satellites in low Earth orbit down to 12.
Cloud Constellation wants SpaceBelt to circle the Earth some 460 kilometers above the equator. Beek said nine SpaceBelt satellites will be for communications, while three will be for memory.
A capital raise Beek expects to close by the end of March could kick Cloud Constellation — now 21 people — into higher gear. Beek said the current raise combines two previously planned funding rounds into a single larger one, and would give the startup momentum to build out its constellation, called SpaceBelt.
“We are trying to close a $200 million round, and then move to a debt raise,” he said.
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