Gravity raises $20 million to build parts necessary to live and work in space • TechCrunch

The space industry is on the cusp of a revolution. Launch costs, which have fallen dramatically over the past five years, will continue to fall as heavy-lift rockets such as SpaceX’s Starship and Relativity’s Terran R enter service. Along with these developments, many private companies are planning to build commercial sites for science, manufacturing and even tourism.

If space stations are going to be the next step in orbit, they’re going to need standard parts — and Gravitics aims to make them. The startup is led by space industry veteran Colin Dowhan, who navigated these waves and saw a gap in the market. Dowhan’s career spanned nearly 20 years at Lockheed Martin, where he worked as a senior finance manager for government clients on large satellite constellations. He also co-founded Altius Spacecraft, which was acquired by Voyager Space in 2019.

Individual station operators “need simple LEGO bricks to build in space,” he told TechCrunch in a recent interview: versatile, modular hardware for humans to build at scale in space.

Following the announcement of a $20 million seed round, Gravitics, which went public today, is calling its building block “StarMax.” (Duan refers to it as an SUV – “Space Utility Vehicle”). About half of the International Space Station. Gravitics wants to place these modules as the essential foundation for living and working in space.

The initiative has attracted significant investor attention, as the seed round shows — further proof that the space station and space-dwelling plays are heating up. The fund was led by Type One Ventures, with additional participation from Tim Draper of Draper Associates, FJ Labs, The Venture Collective, Helios Capital, Chicago-based Giant Step Capital, Gingles, Specter, Manhattan West and Mana Ventures.

From an investor perspective, Type One Founding Partner and Gravity Board Member Tarek Waked said the firm has noticed several fundamental trends that support the company’s vision for the future.

“We’re betting that startup costs are going down. We are betting the industry on the Starship revolution,” he said. Starship cargo capacity isn’t the only thing that excites the Gravity team. The rocket has the potential to send many more people into space – people who currently cannot land.

“There is no infrastructure for those people to go to. [to]Even if we build that infrastructure today, there is no modular or cost-effective way to get that much infrastructure into orbit,” Waked said. “And I think that’s where Gravitics comes into play.”

StarMax in size. Image Credits: Gravity

Providing future sites

Gravitics doesn’t operate as a separate game emphatically as a space station. Operator. Blue Origin and the Sierra Space Orbiter Reef, Voyager and Lockheed Starlab and a third project led by Northrop Grumman received significant funding from NASA under the agency’s Commercial low Earth orbit Destinations (CLD) program. Instead of competing with these companies, Gravitics wants to be their main supplier.

Douhan said he expects there will be more demand for the product in the second half of the decade when operators start their first builds. Beyond that, Gravitics aims to meet the ongoing needs of these sites after they become operational, and the company is betting organic demand will be met for launch cargo and aircraft crew reductions. Starmax will have the energy and motivation on board for delivery and installation (and, of course, the company has landed Virgin Orbit’s former senior director of propulsion, Scott McLean, as director of engineering).

“What we’re anticipating is that demand for the site is growing,” Dowhan said. “They need to expand over time.”

Gravitics StarMax

Office presentation at Starmax. Image Credits: Gravity

What the economics of low-Earth orbit will ultimately look like is anyone’s guess, but from the outside, StarMax’s focus on design improvements (the module has docking ports on both ends) is also a hedge against the space industry’s popularity. Uncertain timelines. But it also makes sense from a marketing perspective: Gravitics is poised to sell the Starmax module to entities that want to use it in a free-flying capacity, or to an operator that wants the flexibility to offer short-term stays or long-term engagements. to stations; But Starmax could be daisy-chained to form larger indoor arenas because people like that spend time in the space.

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“Regarding Gravity”.

For all the talk about Starship, the company isn’t putting all its eggs in the same Musk-y basket. The suite of StarMax modules under development is being designed to be compatible with other next-gen launch vehicles such as United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan and Blue Origin’s New Glenn. While Gravitics is tight-lipped about how much a Starmax will cost, Dowhan said a recent contract between Axiom Space and Thales Alenia for two station modules, estimated at €110 million ($108 million), would be competitive. $54 million each.

The company recently opened a 42,000-square-foot facility north of Seattle where it has begun prototype construction and is preparing for early module pressure tests early next year. Gravitics is in talks with development teams in Florida about building a large production and integration facility near their customers at the Kennedy Space Center. In addition to these physical locations, the company will continue to grow its team using the funds from this seed round. As previously noted, it attracted the distinguished talents of McLean and Bill Tandy, former mission architect and chief engineer of Orbital Reef.

Pressure tests in the first quarter of next year are the first step toward testing Starmax in orbit, though Doughan declined to provide any specifics on that timeline. But it’s safe to say the company is moving fast — like all companies hoping to power the next generation of space stations — with the ISS decommissioning at the end of the decade. NASA officials have made it clear they don’t want any space station gaps, and are willing to help Venture to ensure a solid American presence in orbit. To keep up with this momentum, Gravitics is taking pre-orders now for delivery in 2026.

By now the name of the company must have struck you. Gravitic – According to some online dictionaries, it is an ancient word with meaning. Of or relating to gravitymostly replaced by the word Gravity. Doughan and Waked insist that the company is laser-focused on meeting customer needs today with its Zero G StarMax modules. But Dogan admitted that he is the true “North Star” of the company Gravity Solutions, with a lowercase “g”: Space stations that recreate Earth’s gravity to enable truly long-term human orbit.

“If we’re truly going to make space our legacy and expand human development through the solar system, gravity solutions are really the only way to make that happen. Even though that’s not the case today, that continues to be the North Star for the company.”

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