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South African satellite control systems company secures venture capital funding

CubeSpace CEO Mike-Alec Kearney

CubeSpace CEO Mike-Alec Kearney

13th February 2024

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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South African spacecraft attitude determination and control systems (ADCS) developer and manufacturer CubeSpace has secured R47-million in venture capital funding, to allow it to expand its international markets. CubeSpace is a spinout company, from Stellenbosch University, which specialises in producing turnkey ADCS solutions for clients around the world. The funding is being provided by the University Technology Fund, with co-investor Savant Venture Fund.

“CubeSpace embodies the University Technology Fund’s vision to invest in South African university technology with global potential,” explained Fund CEO Wayne Stocks. “This is the fund’s largest investment to date, reflecting our confidence in the company. Their outstanding performance in a promising sector has us excited to support their ambitious goals. We’re thrilled to fuel their journey!”

“We have developed a modular and low-cost control system capable of controlling any size satellite, which will help researchers, private companies, and governments globally build satellites a lot quicker, with smaller teams, and at much lower cost,” highlighted CubeSpace CEO Mike-Alec Kearney. “With the new investment, we’re expanding our capabilities to control satellites up to one ton through our revolutionary new range of large reaction wheels. These wheels will all include our high-efficiency precision electrical motor which was developed in-house and will address an urgent need in the satellite constellation market for high-performance, low-cost reaction wheels that can be delivered in high volumes for demanding schedules.”

CubeSpace already had more than 150 customers around the world, with its ADCS fitted to more than 300 satellites. Its products were endorsed by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa). It has partnered with Nasa, the European Space Agency and other space agencies. And it has recorded an annual growth rate of 50% over the past four years.

Originally, the company specialised in the CubeSat segment, also known as nanosatellites, which have a mass of less than 10 kg each. It has been successfully expanding into other market segments. It was involved in the development of control systems for the United Arab Emirates’ Rashid lunar rover (which was lost when the Japanese lunar lander carrying it crashed, in April last year). CubeSat is currently building control systems for three more lunar landers.

Regarding satellites, the company has already won six contracts for its ADCS in the microsatellite and small satellite segments. (Microsatellites have masses of between 10 kg and 100 kg each, while small satellites have masses of between 100 kg and 500 kg each.) The largest of these six satellites was a 400 kg mass Earth observation satellite, which will be flown in a very low Earth orbit of 200 km.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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