The Cislunar space is rapidly maturing for government and civilian use. This is especially true in light of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to establish a permanent human presence on the moon in the long term. But before that happens, a lot of critical infrastructure has to be in place: everything from communication systems to space domain consciousness and more.
That’s where Quantum Space comes in. The startup, led by former acting NASA administrator Steve Jurczyk, is developing a fleet of platforms that would operate in cislunar space and provide a range of services. Just 10 months after announcing its plans, the company said Tuesday it had secured $15 million in funding from Prime Movers Lab to further develop its core product.
Jurczyk, who announced onstage at TC Sessions: Space last week that the company was closing this Series A round, said transitioning from fundraising as a high-level leader at a government agency has been challenging to the head of an early-stage startup. He added that the pace of decision-making turned out to be another major difference between the two worlds.
“At NASA, we have to have 10 meetings and counsel and a board of directors and several assessments, and then all the information would come to me and I would eventually pull the team and make a decision,” he said. “Then we go to meetings in Quantum Space and it’s like, ‘Okay, Steve, we have option A, B, and C. Which one do you want to do?’”
“It was liberating and refreshing and also a little scary.”
The company said it would use the new capital to continue development of QuantumNet — the name for the constellation of platforms, or “Scouts,” that will operate in cislunar space — beginning with the launch of the first Scout in October 2024. That mission, which Quantum Space announced last October, will include a GEOST situational awareness payload and payloads from additional customers. Blue Canyon Technologies will provide the spacecraft bus.
That first mission, dubbed QS-1, will launch as a rideshare, but the company is developing a space tugboat called Ranger that it plans to use to deliver Scouts to their final destination in orbit. The company plans to place more than 40 Scout vehicles in the cislunar space by 2032.
“We started really focusing on what we call the ‘robotic outpost,’ which is a fairly large spacecraft for robotic capability with rendezvous proximity operations, to do maintenance, but then we saw there was a need for more capabilities than that in the cislunar space,” Jurczyk said. “So now we have a broader strategy […] and that has significantly increased our funding needs and our funding timeline.
Quantum Space was founded in 2021 by Kam Ghaffarian, who also founded Axiom Space and Intuitive Machines. Prime Movers Lab is also an investor in Axiom.
Quantum said in a statement it would use the funds to develop integration and testing facilities, a mission operations center and to continue development of the company’s customer-facing data platform and software.