The space industry is evolving, as are the tools it uses; Epsilon3 is a startup trying to make launches, satellite design, rocket manufacturing and other complex processes easier and more collaborative. The company has discovered that its tools can be used outside of space, and growing popularity across the board has led to a new $15 million investment.
Not so long ago Epsilon 3 raised $2.8 million seed roundhaving been founded in early 2021 SpaceX veteran Laura Crabtree and Max Mednick of Epirus. The idea is simple, but difficult to achieve: to make an operating system for the modern space industry.
Companies working on new satellites, rocket parts, and so on often use software from bygone years because, like “flight-proven” hardware, the industry is, in a sense, very technologically conservative. If it’s not broken, don’t update it. But while it worked up to a point, these outdated tools don’t meet the needs of high-growth startups, and that’s where Epsilon3 targets.
To be clear, this is not an alternative to Windows or macOS, but rather sets of software tools that have been used for decades to design, approve, implement, and track things like iterative part design. This typically involves a lot of data, multiple parties checking everything multiple times, and ultimately a sort of mixture of interconnected (or completely disconnected) platforms, old and new.
Since January, the company has seen growth not only in the space industry, but also in related and even completely unrelated sectors, which suggests that there is a real thirst for improvement.
In terms of space, the company noted (with some surprise) that the software has been used in many recent orbital operations. “We looked at launches since the beginning of the year and 20% of those teams are using Epsilon3,” Mednick said. Considering the company only started operations last year and received seeds in January, this is impressive.
But you might wonder why something suitable for making satellites is generally good for fintech clients or other enterprise clients.
“It was really surprising for us — basically they are both difficult,” Mednick explained. “It comes down to the fact that even business processes and workflows often involve multiple departments, multiple people giving approvals, data going back and forth to multiple people, and multiple stages that work goes through. There are written procedures for these things, and when they are safety or mission critical, they need to be carefully tracked – for example, for compliance. And they often use tools like wikis, confluence, or even just Google Doc; that’s exactly what Epsilon3 can help with – it’s just not testing a new engine, but setting up a new vendor.”
“We remain very focused on the space industry and related areas – launch, satellite operations, testing – as well as what related industries may need such as automotive, fusion, renewable energy and E-VTOL,” Crabtree said. . “But if other companies like fintech want to go out and use our software, that’s great.”
They stressed that their non-space customers are still a minority as instruments continue to be built with launch, orbit and aerospace in mind.
They’ve added a few features recently – one that’s been in high demand is the ability to pull live data from other databases that couldn’t be integrated otherwise. In this way, the standards or inventory database can be pinged whenever necessary to tell a person or work process if they have enough inventory to cover the production plan. Epsilon3 now also works offline, syncing the backup when you’re connected again – useful when you’re testing in the New Mexico desert. And data coming from another source (like a satellite) can now run workflows inside the OS in a “if this, then that” style.
Crabtree said the features are mostly based on feedback: “We listen to what our customers want – we have a very long list of requests, but we also have our own vision for the product.”
While the company is targeting startups and smaller businesses, this is only the beginning of its ambitions.
“We just started supporting our first government customer, the 45th, at the Cape,” said Crabtree (i.e., the 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral). “We would like to expand to some of the simple ones as well as other startups – we were built to support startups.”
$15 million in funding should help speed up the process. The round was led by Lux Capital with participation from Moore Strategic Ventures, Y Combinator (of which Epsilon3 is an alumnus), and MaC Venture Capital.
Credit: techcrunch.com /