The longtime president of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture, Rob Meyerson, will be joining the board of directors for another pioneering space company in connection with a $130 million funding round.
Texas-based Axiom Space says the fresh funding will boost its effort to build the world’s first commercial space station, starting as early as 2024.
The Series B funding round was led by London-based C5 Capital, which focuses on cybersecurity and related sectors. Axiom Space said it will partner with other companies in C5’s portfolio to establish an orbital center for cloud computing and cybersecurity operations.
Meyerson, who left Blue Origin in 2018, is an operating partner at C5 Capital.
“Axiom Space is a force in the space sector, and it will become a centerpiece of the C5 Capital portfolio,” he said in a news release. “The Axiom Station will be the infrastructure upon which we will build many new businesses in space, and it will serve as the foundation for future exploration missions to the moon, Mars and beyond.”
Other participants in the funding round include Declaration Partners, which is backed by the family of billionaire investor David Rubenstein; Moelis Dynasty Investments; The Venture Collective; Hemisphere Ventures; and Starbridge Venture Capital. The latest investments follow a round of seed funding from Axiom’s co-founder and executive chairman, Kam Ghaffarian. CNBC quoted Axiom President and CEO Michael Suffredini, a former manager of NASA’s space station program, as saying the company’s valuation now exceeds $1 billion.
In the near term, Axiom Space is focusing on arranging privately funded trips to the International Space Station. Its first mission, known as Ax-1, is due to send former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and three paying customers to the station in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule next year.
Hollywood leading man Tom Cruise is said to be on deck for a follow-up mission that would involve shooting scenes for a space-themed movie, but Axiom hasn’t yet confirmed the timing for that flight.
Axiom’s plan for its own space station would begin with the launch of a commercial module that would be hooked up to the International Space Station in the 2024 time frame. Additional modules would be added to Axiom’s complex during the years that follow. If the ISS is decommissioned in 2028, as planned, Axiom would detach its modules and operate them independently as a privately owned space station.
“Axiom’s sole selection by NASA to connect to ISS and ability to leverage its key revenue lines are evidence of the company’s expertise, and a business model that is set up to optimize across a variety of commercial on-orbit opportunities,” Ghaffarian said.
Axiom’s executives acknowledge that arranging the construction and launch of the modules will be a multibillion-dollar undertaking.
Space News quoted Suffredini as saying that the money from the latest funding round would support expanded operations — including doubling Axiom’s current staff of 110 employees, paying Thales Alenia Space for building the pressurized elements of the first modules, and establishing a campus at Houston Spaceport.