Space Technology

A startup has raised $10 million to construct a space cargo ‘return vehicle’

Inversion, a Los Angeles-based space firm, revealed on November 16 that it had acquired $10 million in the seed funding to construct a reentry capsule that would transport freight from orbit back to Earth. Justin Fiaschetti, who is a previous Relativity Space and SpaceX propulsion engineer, and Austin Briggs, a former propulsion engineer at the ABL Space Systems, started the startup in January.

Inversion created a reusable capsule that might be used to make several flights to space, such as delivering cargo to the space stations and returning with it. Spark Capital led the seed fundraising round, which included Y Combinator, Liquid 2 Ventures, Embedded Ventures, Funders Club, and angel investors Kyle Vogt of Cruise as well as David Hodge.

Santo Politi, general partner and co-founder of Spark Capital, said, “Inversion is among the very first to tackle the problems of the lack of return choices in the space business.” After Fiaschetti and Briggs proposed their invention at Y Combinator business accelerator demo day this summer, investors expressed interest in Inversion, according to Fiaschetti.

According to Fiaschetti, the company would strive to meet an expanding need in the space sector for a “high cadence and inexpensive capability” to send cargo to space and return supplies. According to him, today’s space freight spacecraft was created to meet NASA’s specifications. However, as space becomes increasingly commercialized, more adaptable choices are expected to be in demand.

Commercial and government users are also potential consumers for the company’s capsule, he said. The US military, for example, might store supplies in orbit and transfer them anywhere in the world using the capsule.

Another application would be for future commercial space stations to be resupplied. “The current model fluctuates every 3 – 4 months. However, as the business becomes more commercialized, you’ll need that high tempo of once a week,” Fiaschetti added.

The capsule might also be used as a standalone platform for space missions. “Once in orbit, our capsule can either guide itself to a space station or install solar panels as well as stay in the orbit as a free flyer,” he explained. It may house scientific experiments on board and subsequently return them to Earth or a space station in this mode. If corporations start mining space resources, Fiaschetti believes the capsule may be used to recover items from the moon or even asteroids in the future.

The company developed a one-foot diameter capsule as a tech demonstrator at the 5,000 square-foot facility in Los Angeles to try out the systems before developing a larger 4-foot diameter capsule.

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Krzysztof Stanowicz

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