Gadgets

Accion Systems takes on $3M in Boeing-led round to advance its tiny satellite thrusters

Accion Systems, This start-up to reinvent satellite propulsion with an all-new, innovative thruster attracted a significant investment from Boeing's HorizonX Ventures. The $ 3 million fundraising should give the company some leeway while continuing to prove and improve its technology.

"Investing in startups with next-generation concepts accelerates satellite innovation, thus unleashing new opportunities and economies in the Earth's orbit and deep space," said the director. General of HorizonX Ventures, Brian Schettler, in a press release.

Accion, whose founder and CEO, Natalya Bailey, paid homage to the Disrupt scene only a few weeks ago, is manufacturing what is called a mosaic liquid ion electrospray propulsion system, TILE. This system is very efficient and can be the size of a postage stamp or much larger depending on the needs of the satellite.

Example of a mosaic attached to a satellite chassis.

The company has tested its technology in terrestrial and space installations, but it has not been used for missions yet – although this may change soon. A pair of cubesats designed by students and equipped with TILE boosters are expected to take off during RocketLab's first major commercial launch, "It's Business Time." It has been delayed a few times but the beginning of November is the next launch window, so everyone is crossing their fingers

Another launch scheduled for November is the IRVINE 02 cubesat, which will sport tiles and will board a Falcon 9 loaded with supplies for the international space station.

The investment in Boeing (Gettylab also participated in the round) does not include any guarantee such as the equipment of the satellites built by Boeing with the thrusters. But the company is certainly already dedicated to this type of technology and the agreement is called partnership – so it is certainly a possibility.

Natalya Bailey and Rob Coneybeer (Shasta Ventures) at Disrupt Berlin 2017.

A Boeing representative said that this was to help Accion scale up, and that it would have access to its testing facilities and expertise. "We believe that there will be many applications for the Propion propulsion system and that we will monitor and evaluate the technology as it evolves," they wrote in an email.

I asked Accion what the new funding would be for, but one representative only indicated that it would be used for the usual tasks: research, operations, personnel costs, and so on. Not a big skunk project, then. The last great tour of the company took place in 2016 when it had raised $ 7.5 million.

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