Alternative Investment

Vestigo Aerospace raises $375K in seed funding to spur deorbit systems

LOS ANGELES and WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Vestigo Aerospace, a space technology company focused on deorbit systems, has closed a seed funding round with an investment of $375,000 from Manhattan West, a Los Angeles-based strategic investment firm. NASA will provide a 1:1 match of Manhattan West’s investment through a Small Business Innovative Research Phase II-Extended (SBIR Phase II-E) contract.

The seed funding and the matching NASA SBIR Phase II-E award will enable Vestigo Aerospace to establish the commercial manufacturing process for Vestigo’s product line of dragsails currently in development. The dragsails are designed to enable the timely deorbit of space vehicles, including CubeSats, small satellites and launch vehicle upper stages. Initial sales are anticipated for 2023.

Vestigo’s dragsails offer standardized mechanical and electrical interfaces to the host vehicle, allowing straightforward integration. The dragsails can be deployed on command or via a backup timer, providing reliable deorbit capability even if the host vehicle is inoperative.

“The Spinnaker product line of dragsails addresses the growing need for reliable end-of-mission deorbit capability in order to maintain the sustainability of low-Earth orbit,” said David Spencer, founder and CEO of Vestigo Aerospace. “Bolt-on dragsails represent an ‘ounce of prevention’ approach to the orbital debris problem that, if left unchecked, could halt the growth of the orbital economy.”

“At Manhattan West, we are committed to being active investors in emerging spaces and disruptive sectors, and identifying long-term secular shifts developing in the markets,” said Lorenzo Esparza, founding principal and CEO at Manhattan West. “We’re thrilled that our strategic investment in Vestigo will support the company’s development as it establishes its name as a leading player in deorbit systems and the space industry.”

The Spinnaker dragsails are sized to enable the host vehicle to meet regulatory guidelines for deorbit duration. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission mandates deorbit from low-Earth orbit within 25 years of end-of-mission. The FCC offers streamlined licensing, with cost savings in application fees of over $440,000, for commercial small satellites that can deorbit within six years of launch.

Before the seed round, Vestigo Aerospace funded dragsail technology development through NASA SBIR Phase I and Phase II contracts, and matching funds from Indiana-based Elevate Ventures. For more information on the evolution of Vestigo and its commercial dragsail solutions, visit vestigoaerospace.com.

Spencer is a Purdue University adjunct associate professor from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and director of the Space Flight Projects Laboratory. Vestigo Aerospace licensed the dragsail technology through the Purdue Research Foundation of Office Technology Commercialization. The company was a client of the Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups.

About Vestigo Aerospace

Established in 2019, Vestigo Aerospace has quickly become an industry leader in dragsail technology. Vestigo is committed to preserving the space environment and high-utility orbits through providing end-of-mission deorbit capability for space vehicles. For more information, visit vestigoaerospace.com.

About Manhattan West

Manhattan West is a global strategic investment firm based in Los Angeles that provides proprietary alternative investments across multiple asset classes including Private Equity, Venture Capital, Real Estate, Private Debt and traditional equity and fixed income portfolios, as well as financial services including business management, tax and planning. To learn more about us, visit manhattanwest.com.

About Purdue Research Foundation

Purdue Research Foundation supports Purdue University’s land-grant mission by helping the university improve the world through its technologies and graduates. Established in 1930, PRF is a private, nonprofit foundation. The foundation helps patent and commercialize Purdue technologies; builds places to encourage innovation, invention, investment, commercialization and entrepreneurship; and makes equity available to students to finance their Purdue education. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at otcip@prf.org. For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org.

Contacts: Vestigo Aerospace: info@vestigoaerospace.com, 818-928-9964

Manhattan West: StreetCred PR, mw@streetcredpr.com; Will Ruben, william@streetcredpr.com, 847-208-8289; Meaghan McNichol, Meaghan@streetcredpr.com, 412-720-3777

Purdue Research Foundation: Steve Martin, sgmartin@prf.org

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