Satellite inspection startup raises $12 million Series A

- August 22, 2023 2 MIN READ
Satellite Orbiting Earth
Photo: AdobeStock
Sydney satellite monitoring startup HEO Robotics has raised $12 million in a Series A two years after its last round.

The raise was led by Sydney VC AirTree Ventures with support from the new $40 million sovereign capabilities early-stage fund Salus Ventures.

Salus invest up to $1.5 million into initial rounds for cutting-edge tech for commercial and government markets.

The spacetech venture, part of the UNSW Founders Program in 2017, previously raised a Seed round in 2021 led by David Harding, founder and CEO of Winton Group, and startup accelerator Y Combinator. They refused to disclose the funding at the time, revealing later that it was $3 million.

Also hitting the EFT button on the Series A were Y Combinator, In-Q-Tel, David Harding and Steve Baxter.

The startup’s other angel investors include Tim Parsons, Matt Ryall, Christian Thaler-Wolski, Phil Hayes-St Clair and Solai Valliappan.

HEO Robotics provides visual inspection services for satellites and space debris for their operators to monitor the condition of their space assets. The company uses existing Earth observation satellites in orbit, using software to redirect the focus of those cameras to inspect other satellites for wear and tear. In the last three years, the number of satellites orbiting earth has more than trebled to nearly 8000, with more than 10,000 more expected to launch over the next decade.

The funding comes at a time when Australia’s focus on space has been cast adrift, with news emerging last week that plans for a $71 million space innovation hub and manufacturing facilities for satellites and space tech, based in Queenbeyan, has been halted.

The joint venture project, backed by Investment NSW, from sovereign defence companies Electro Optic Systems (EOS) and Nova Systems, was hoping to plug gaps in Australia’s current space manufacturing landscape to develop large Earth Observation satellites up to 500kg capable of fulfilling complex missions of national significance and lure European satellite manufacturers Down Under, has been canned.

It follows a series of cutbacks in funding from the federal Labor government and science and industry minister Ed Husic in recent weeks, including scrapping the $1.2 billion National Space Mission for Earth Observation program in June.

Those satellite program was designed to gather data on natural disasters, agriculture and weather, as well as providing marine surveillance for the Department of Defence.

The Space Industry Association of Australia said in response that it was “intensely disappointed at the decision” to abolish Australia’s first national space mission.