Space tech startup CesiumAstro secures $60M led by Airbus to usher in a new era in space communications and sensing
About a decade ago, governments and companies used to spend millions of dollars on large satellites the size of a garbage truck. Some of these satellites cost as much as $400 million. Now, satellites are no larger than a microwave or even a loaf of bread.
Fast forward ten years later, the deployment of many low-cost satellites can now provide the mission capability and performance of large bespoke satellites of the past with added resiliency at a fraction of the cost. Working together in formation, multiple satellites can coordinate sensing and communication for optimized mission results.
One of the leading startups in this space is CesiumAstro, an Austin, Texas-based space startup and developer of advanced aerospace communication systems that builds high-throughput, plug-and-play active phased array communication payloads for airborne and in-orbit platforms. Cesium’s full-stack, multi-mission hardware and software products enable a range of commercial and defense objectives.
Today, CesiumAstro announced it has closed a $60 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round, co-led by Airbus Ventures and Forever Ventures, with strategic participation from L3Harris Technologies. Returning investors include Kleiner Perkins, Lavrock Ventures, Franklin Templeton Blackhorse Fund, and HEICO.
The round, which brings the total funding raised to nearly $90 million since its inception five years ago, will accelerate the growth of its core research, development, and rapid manufacturing capabilities, and expand its facilities both domestically and abroad.
Founded in 2017 by Shey Sabripour, CesiumAstro delivers communication systems for Satellites, UAVs, launch vehicles, and other space or airborne platforms. Each of their products combines carefully selected COTS components with the traditional reliability necessary for aerospace systems.
“We are honored to have strong support from our new and existing investors. With their backing, we are now set to scale the Company and realize the full potential of our proprietary technology,” remarks Shey Sabripour, Founder and CEO of CesiumAstro. “This investment is a key endorsement of our ability to deliver advanced communication systems to both our commercial and defense customers and fully secures our growth trajectory.”
Cesium’s products are designed to address a wide set of applications, including satellite and drone communications, missile defense, and in-flight connectivity. At the heart of these products is their unparalleled ability to deliver the full stack of Active Electronically Steered Arrays (AESAs): Realizing the full benefit of active phased array technologies, Cesium offers a modular ecosystem of hardware and software with RF and antenna front-ends that cover critical space-frequency allocations, along with a common reconfigurable digital back-end to address mission needs for high-throughput communication, under even the tightest budgetary and schedule constraints.
“As a fast-rising industry leader achieving ambitious communications system designs, CesiumAstro is uniquely positioned to fully optimize spectrum usage and accelerate cost-efficient modes of advanced connectivity. Airbus Ventures is proud to be co-leading this round, alongside the force-multiplying capabilities of the Forever Ventures team,” adds Airbus Ventures Managing Partner Thomas d’Halluin. “Now the Company can load up a new raft of achievements, transforming in-flight and in-orbit communications to meet the widening array of new challenges ahead.”
“We are beyond excited to participate in CesiumAstro’s fundraise. The company’s satellite systems enable a new era in communication and radio-frequency sensing, making next-generation communication networks both affordable and easy,” adds Phillip Sarofim of Forever Ventures. “Deploying smaller, more efficient constellations of satellites allows private enterprises to create secure next-generation networks in orbit, an unprecedented step in reliably connecting our world.”
Encompassing over 80 engineers, scientists, and business professionals with in-house rapid prototyping and environmental test capability, the Company has grown a full suite of capabilities across development, production, and deployment of high-reliability systems.
“CesiumAstro’s full-stack system is critical to enabling higher connectivity speeds within our evolving aerial and space communications infrastructure. Its high-resiliency improves security, streamlines airline connectivity offerings, and enhances internet access in rural and over-crowded areas,” comments Dr. Wen Hsieh, Partner at Kleiner Perkins.