Space entrepreneur Max Polyakov acquires SA's Dragonfly satellite maker
The deal gives Polyakov an anchor point in the booming but fiercely competitive market for small-satellite technology, and a potential revenue source for rocket maker Firefly Aerospace, which is majority-owned by Polyakov's Noosphere Ventures investment fund.
He declined to disclose the value of the deal, which closed earlier this month. It has not been previously reported and an announcement is expected on Tuesday.
"This deal gives us cost-control and mass production of components," Polyakov told Reuters by phone. "It allows us to bring everything in-house."
The acquisition comes amid a frenzy of capital infusions and blank-cheque deal-making around a new breed of firms building miniaturised launch systems to cash in on the exponential growth of compact satellites needing a ride to orbit in the coming years.
Texas-based Firefly is seeking to raise up to $350m in multiple tranches over 12 months as part of a plan to expand production and bring to market its higher-capacity Beta rocket, two people familiar with the matter said.
One of them told Reuters an announcement on an initial infusion could be made in the coming days.
A Firefly spokesperson declined to comment.
Polyakov hopes Dragonfly's satellites could launch on Firefly's Alpha rocket, which Polyakov said could potentially debut before the end of June.
Firefly, US-New Zealand start-up Rocket Lab and billionaire British entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit are front-runners in a long list of small-launch providers seeking to cash in on the small satellite trend.
The boom is fuelled in part by venture cash and technology leaps that have reduced the size and boosted the capabilities of satellites used for everything from communications to national security to climate studies.
The sprawling field of small-satellite makers includes SpaceX's Starlink, Amazon.com's Kuiper, Britain's OneWeb, venture-backed Planet, and Raytheon Technologies Corp's Blue Canyon Technologies.
Among them, Polyakov's Dragonfly aims to build up to 48 satellites per year for commercial and civil space customers. For example, Dragonfly develops satellite cameras for Earth Observing Systems Data Analytics, which is owned by Polyakov's Menlo Park, California-based Noosphere Ventures.
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.