CubeSpace, an innovative satellite component manufacturer, born out of the research corridors of Stellenbosch University, has secured a substantial R47 million in venture capital funding to power its global expansion endeavours.
With a solid footing in the cubesat domain, the company is poised to revolutionise the broader satellite industry, capitalising on its extensive expertise and robust research and development capabilities.
Bolstered by an impressive 50% annual growth rate over the past four years, CubeSpace is now embarking on a strategic transition supported by recent venture capital infusion spearheaded by the University Technology Fund (UTF) in collaboration with co-investor Savant Venture Fund. This injection of capital is aimed at facilitating expansive growth opportunities for the company.
Renowned for its adept control of over 300 satellites and endorsed by esteemed institutions like NASA, CubeSpace is directing its focus towards fortifying its presence in the lucrative US and European markets, thereby augmenting its support structure for a diverse clientele spanning the globe.
“Gone are the times where satellite manufacturing is reserved for governments of large first-world countries. 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,” says CubeSpace CEO Mike-Alec Kearney.
The company has already secured its first six contracts for microsatellites, with the largest contract being for a 400kg earth observation satellite destined for Very Low Earth Orbit at 200kms. This achievement underscores its strong position in the international satellite industry and demonstrates the industry’s trust in the company’s capabilities.
“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,” explains Kearney.
The control systems play a crucial role in the operation of satellites by ensuring precision pointing and stability, enabling seamless operation of optical payloads and antennas. This expertise is highlighted by CubeSpace’s inclusion in NASA’s State-of-the-Art Small Spacecraft Technology report.
The company has played a significant role in groundbreaking missions, including the development of the control systems for the UAE Lunar rover and is currently in the process of building control systems for three more lunar rovers, which will contribute to the colonisation of the moon and Mars.
Through enabling their customers to build world class satellites, the company actively contributes to initiatives aimed at improving conditions on Earth, including projects related to the removal of space debris, smart agriculture, global internet access, and the monitoring of climate, weather patterns, and maritime activities.
“CubeSpace embodies the University Technology Fund’s vision to invest in South African university technology with global potential. 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!” says UTF CEO Wayne Stocks.
“The investment in CubeSpace is a great case study demonstrating that local university technology is an overlooked but very promising asset class. This is also supported by the fast growth in the Stellenbosch University group of companies which currently boasts nearly 30 spinout companies,” explains Anita Nel, Chief Director of Innovation and Commercialisation of Stellenbosch University and CEO of US Enterprises.