Austin has gained another tech unicorn — this time, in the space industry.
On Tuesday, Firefly Aerospace announced it raised $75 million through a Series A round and closed a $100 million secondary transaction. The two deals mean that the Cedar Park-based aerospace company, which develops small and medium-sized launch vehicles, spacecraft and in-space services, is now valued at more than $1 billion.
The Series A round was led by DADA Holdings. Canon Ball LLC, Astera Institute, SMS Capital Investment LLC, Raven One Ventures, Reuben Brothers Limited, the XBTO Ventures and other investors also participated in this round. The remaining funding comes from seed investor Noosphere Ventures selling approximately $100 million of its Firefly equity holdings to some of the Series A participants and other investors, according to a news release.
The funding doesn’t stop there. Later this year, Firefly plans to raise an additional $300 million to fund growth plans through 2025, according to the release. The next funding raise is expected to come after Firefly’s inaugural Alpha rocket launch, which is anticipated to take place by mid-June.
“Post-launch we will embark on a second, larger round that will enable Firefly to execute fully its business plan of new spacecraft and launch vehicle development,” CEO Tom Markusic said in a statement. “With our recent major contract wins and the arrival of new, strong financial partners, 2021 is proving to be a breakout year for Firefly.”
Founded in 2017, Firefly has announced multiple commercial and civil contracts recently. In February, the company announced a $93.3 million contract from NASA for a moon mission that is expected to take place in 2023. As of February, Firefly had roughly 330 employees located at its headquarters about 25 minutes north of Austin. The company is currently hiring for 68 positions, including several engineers.
“Space exploration is essential to ensuring our survival beyond our fragile planet,” Jed McCaleb, founder of Astera Institute, said in the release. “Firefly is engineering the next-generation infrastructure needed for a variety of unprecedented space activities. Its focus on cost and practical considerations ensures these developments will become reality sooner than later.”
In addition to the Series A round, McCaleb will join Firefly’s board of directors.
Firefly isn’t the only space company making headlines in Austin. Elon Musk’s SpaceX facilities in Texas have gained media attention with significant hiring announcements. SpaceX, a rocket producer, also appears to be opening a high-tech factory in Austin.