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  • Satellite Evolution Group

Space DOTS raises $1.5m to develop first in-orbit testing solution for advanced materials in space

Space DOTS, a startup developing miniaturised in-situ testing for advanced materials in any space environment, has secured $1.5m in pre-seed funding. The round features investment from US-based deeptech investor Boost VC, female-led Sie Ventures, 7Percent Ventures, Blue Wire Capital and angel investors Elaine Lau and Alex Ionescu. The business will use the funding to commercialise its solution for the global space industry, reducing the time and expense associated with bringing materials for space technologies to market.

The current approach to materials testing in space is expensive and laborious, costing millions of pounds and often taking years before technologies can be brought to market. The UK-based startup has created the first ever in-orbit active testing solution, making the qualification of advanced materials faster, cheaper, and simpler. Its smartphone-sized, miniature payload, the Barnacle DOT, can reach any orbit; enabling customers to accurately test materials across all space environments. Modular and scalable, the Barnacle DOT can rideshare on any platform and interface with a variety of launchers, which allows for testing beyond microgravity. With Space DOTS, an entire end-to-end material testing campaign in space will achieve higher validity while costing significantly less than the millions traditionally spent by the industry.

During their time at Airbus Defence and Space, Space DOTS’ co-founders, Bianca Cefalo (CEO) and James Sheppard-Alden (CTO), became all too familiar with the inefficiencies around the testing of advanced materials. Motivated by the high costs and significant failure rates associated with the space industry, the duo founded Space DOTS to create a more affordable and sustainable solution for in-orbit quality control of space technologies.

Bianca Cefalo, Co-founder and CEO at Space DOTS, said: “You wouldn’t test a rain jacket in the sun.Space companies continue to waste valuable time and resources with materials untested in the environment they’re expected to operate in. According to NASA, the current failure rate for small satellites stands at 41%. The implication is that for modern small satellite missions, almost one out of every two small satellite missions will result in either a total or a partial mission failure, which is unsustainable from both a commercial and environmental perspective. At Space DOTS, we are proposing an evolution to the legacy approach of testing and qualifying materials for space. We intend on becoming the trusted partner to space companies globally when it comes to in-orbit research and development and this funding will put us on the path towards doing just that.”

Brayton Williams, Co-founder and Partner at Boost VC, said: "Building for space is HARD. It takes ambitious technical dreamers to shake up an industry. Bianca and James are both engineers and were frustrated by the status quo of building for space, which they had been doing for many years. In 20 years the entire space industry will be using different and more advanced materials and it will be because of the work Bianca and James are kicking off now!"

Nicole Velho, Co-Founder and Head of Syndicate at Sie Ventures, commented: “This investment marks our first venture into SpaceTech, as we see advanced materials will be the key enabler to the infrastructures and supply chains that are being built in space and Space DOTS has first mover advantage in this nascent market. It is particularly encouraging to see more women building deeptech companies and Bianca’s ambition and vision are extraordinary - we are excited to see where she is taking this next.”

Space DOTS is already working with customers across the industry, including specialist materials suppliers Goodfellow Cambridge. Dr Aphrodite Tomou, Head of Technical at Goodfellow Cambridge, said: “We are looking forward to further collaboration with Space DOTS, in order to conduct material testing in a space environment - a critical opportunity that allows us to continue our expansion into the space sector. We are continually monitoring the progress made in different materials, including microwires, nanomaterials, advanced metal alloys, and composites. It is crucial for us to be able to conduct tests on these innovative materials in space, and Space DOTS provides us with an opportunity to achieve this through its in-orbit active testing solution."


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