Gravitics raises $20 million for plans to build space station modules north of Seattle

An artist's conception shows the Gravitics StarMax module in Earth orbit.  (Illustration by Gravitics)

An artist’s conception shows the Gravitics StarMax module in Earth orbit. (Illustration by Gravitics)

A space company called gravitational has emerged from stealth with $20 million in seed funding and a plan to build space station modules at a 42,000-square-foot facility north of Seattle, in Marysville, Washington.

As NASA makes plans for phase out the International Space Station in the 2031 time frame, Gravitics and its backers are banking on launching commercial outposts into low-Earth orbit. The operators of those outposts might need subcontractors to provide the hardware.

Gravitics’ main offering will be a large module known as StarMax. The general-purpose module would provide up to 400 cubic meters (14,000 cubic feet) of usable habitable volume, which is nearly half the pressurized volume of the International Space Station.

Multiple StarMax modules could be linked together in orbit like Lego blocks.

“We are focused on helping commercial space station operators succeed,” Colin Doughanco-founder and CEO of Gravitics, said today in a press release. “StarMax provides our customers with scalable volume to accommodate the growing user base of a space station over time. StarMax is the modular building block for a human-centered, cislunar economy.”

The investment group for the recently announced seed round is led by Type One Ventures and also includes Tim Draper of Draper Associates, FJ Labs, The Venture Collective, Helios Capital, Giant Step Capital, Gaingels, Spectre, Manhattan West and Mana Ventures.

“The Gravitics case is simple,” he said. awake tarek of Type One Ventures, who has joined the Gravitics board of directors. “Having a scalable space infrastructure that is 100% made in the United States is good for the space industry, good for the country, and it’s just the beginning of an effort that the whole world will benefit from as space becomes increasingly ever more accessible.

Doughan brings nearly two decades of aerospace industry experience to the company: he was a senior finance manager at Lockheed Martin from 2003 until January of this year, and served as a co-founder of Altius Space Machines, which was acquired by Voyager Space Holdings in 2019.

Other notable members of the Gravitics team include Chief Engineer bill tandy, a veteran of Ball Aerospace’s Blue Origin space venture and Jeff Bezos; and engineering manager scott maclin, former head of propulsion at Virgin Orbit. Gravitics says its workforce has grown to nearly 40 people, including full-time employees and contractors.

building permits Y job listing to point to Marysville, which is about 40 miles north of Seattle, as the site of Gravitics’ 42,000-square-foot facility for development and initial production. The company says it has already begun assembly of its first StarMax prototype and is preparing to pressure test the module in early 2023.

Ground pressure tests would pave the way for an orbital test mission that has yet to be announced. Pre-orders are being taken for module delivery from 2026.

Gravitics is likely to face challenges in trying to enter a market alongside major players, including Thales Alenia Space (which is manufacturing space station modules for Axiom Space); Sierra Space and Blue Origin (which are working on modules for the Orbital Reef space station); Northrop Grumman (which is developing your own space station concept) and Lockheed Martin (part of the team for the Starlab space station projectled by Nanoracks).

in a Tech Crunch InterviewType One’s Waled said he hoped SpaceX’s Starship super rocket – which is still under development – to open up new opportunities for Gravitics in the coming years. “We are betting that Starship will revolutionize the industry,” he was quoted as saying.

Due to its size, Starship would be the most suitable rocket to launch StarMax modules, but Gravitics says the “StarMax family of modules” could also be launched on other rockets. Gravitics’ StarMax production lead, Jonathan Goff, he said in a tweet that the Starship-compatible 8-meter-wide version of StarMax “is our main focus right now.”

TechCrunch said Gravitics executives were already talking to development groups in Florida about building a production and integration facility near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, larger than the Marysville facility.

More from GeekWire:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *