Conversations about space tech have historically been dominated by tech billionaires launching rockets, failing to recognise the wide range of innovations accelerating the exploration of space.
Investors, however, have been paying attention to the vast potential of space tech. Amid a challenging funding environment, space tech companies have defied the downturn and continued to raise chunky funding rounds, including Isar Aerospace’s $165m funding round earlier this year.
The use cases of space tech startups are varied, offering a wide range of opportunities for businesses, particularly in climate and risk management, from measuring greenhouse gas emissions through satellite data, to using weather satellites to increase solar cell production. Space DOTS is on a mission to disrupt the $18bn Space R&D and Testing market to ensure more effectiveness in the advanced materials used to build products deployed into space, while reducing debris in space.
Why Test Advanced Materials in Space?
Advanced materials are a crucial part of building infrastructure and supply chains in space. Currently, the most commonly used material is aluminium, which underperforms in space, highlighting the need for new materials. In order to use new materials, they need to be tested in space first which currently is a lengthy process that costs millions for a seat on a spacecraft. This is where Space DOTS come in, halving that cost to customers while adding statistical analysis to advanced materials testing.
Bianca Cefalo first came up with the idea when she witnessed that companies were sending products into space based on software calculations and outdated databases in her role as Product Manager at Airbus Space & Defense.
Together with her Airbus colleague James Sheppeard-Alden, she launched Space DOTS, a laboratory the size of a smartphone that can test all materials in space. The lab tests for 14 statistical results of direct orbital qualifications by putting material into the Space DOT and sending it into space on a small “seat” on a spacecraft. That way, testing a material using Space DOTS is less than half the cost of traditional testing.
Improving Technology While Reducing Waste in Space
Space DOTS’ customers range from new advanced materials developers that need to test the materials under non-gravitational environments for durability and performance, to insurance companies covering new space products and need the data, to government space agencies building space stations and software houses utilising space data.
In addition, Space DOTS can play a big role in reducing space debris. This is a major issue as 60% of small satellites currently end up as junk, therefore posing the risk of hitting and potentially destroying other satellites in orbit. The Kessler syndrome also predicts that if there is too much space junk in orbit, it could result in a chain reaction where more and more objects collide and create new space junk in the process, to the point where Earth’s orbit becomes unusable. By making material more accessible, Space DOTS help space developers bring down this failure rate, and consequently produce less space junk.
Why Sie Ventures Backs Space DOTS
At Sie Ventures, our mission is to support exceptional female founders to scale their business. That includes removing some of the biases towards women entrepreneurs, such as the assumption that women are building in sectors that are considered female, such as beauty and health.
Bianca is a brilliant example of defying this bias, showing that women are just as capable to build a deeptech company. The youngest to complete her masters and the youngest participant of the JPL/NASA Insight Mars Mission in 2018, Bianca has always been one step ahead of her peers which enabled her to spot opportunities early on. Space DOTS currently has no direct competitors and the team’s unique experience in space testing puts them in a unique position to take the company to new heights.
We are excited to see where the team takes this next!