Two years after investing in Firefly, a small launcher company, Noosphere Ventures is gearing up to make another investment in the small satellite manufacturing sector. Noosphere’s officials agree that they will do whatever it takes, including bringing a company on the brink back to make a portfolio of companies in the space industry that can facilitate success like SpaceX’s.
Max Polyakov, a managing partner at Noosphere Ventures, believes that mergers and acquisitions, as well as consolidations, will continue in the space industry for a long time. This activity will allow for vertical integrations where one firm can control the launch, data analytics, ground stations, and communications. In the past five years, Noosphere Ventures has invested between $150 and $200 million in mergers and acquisitions of companies that are not all in the space industry. However, this is not all. Mark Watt, a partner in Noosphere Ventures, says that in a best-case scenario, they plan to invest in a small satellite manufacturer by spring.
Max Polyakov is also the CEO of Earth Observation Company EOS and a board member at Firefly Aerospace. He will not reveal how much Noosphere has invested in Firefly Aerospace, but says that it is fully funded for Alpha, a launch vehicle in the pipeline. He also cited Planet, a company that builds and operates fleets of Earth-observing CubeSats, and Maxar Technologies, a company that is building satellites that his DigitalGlobe division will operate as an example of its growing vertical integration agenda. He also says that Noosphere Ventures is interested in companies that manufacture satellites between 50 and 500kg, as these will also have the capability to create additional space technology such as debris removal systems, orbital transfer vehicles used in deploying satellites, and space tugs.
Max Polyakov may also invest in small satellite component suppliers as the distinction between them and manufacturers is rather thin. This investment strategy by Noosphere Ventures is intended to facilitate entire space missions rather than single parts.
Firefly Aerospace is one of the nine companies chosen for NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services Program, which is an excellent opportunity for Noosphere Ventures’ ambition to collaborate with NASA. In line with this agenda, Max Polyakov, through Noosphere, wants to invest in manufacturers that will support the collaboration with NASA and compete favorably with for task orders worth over $2 billion over ten years to bring payloads to the moon’s surface.