Startup K2 Space raises  million to build monster satellites
Startup K2 Space raises  million to build monster satellites

K2 Space co-founders Karan Kunjur and Neel Kunjur at the company’s facility in Torrance, California.

Credit: K2 Space

Los Angeles-based startup K2 Space raised $50 million in new funding as the company works to build monster satellites to match the massive rockets that are coming to market. 

Nearly two years since founding, K2 co-founders and brothers CEO Karan Kunjur and Chief Technology Officer Neel Kunjur expect to launch their first satellite on a demonstration mission later this year.

The company’s latest fundraiser was led by tech investor Brad Gerstner’s Altimeter Capital and joined by Alpine Space Ventures, adding to the $8.5 million in seed funding it raised from investors including First Round Capital and Republic Capital. K2 declined to specify its valuation after the most recent round.

“This round is effectively built for the demand that we’re seeing for launching constellations of the Mega class satellites,” Karan Kunjur told CNBC.

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K2’s Mega class satellite bus — the physical structure of a spacecraft that provides power, movement and more — is sized to fit in “heavy” and “super heavy” rockets. Some of those rockets are currently in operation, such as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets or United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan, and some are expected to come to market in the coming years, including SpaceX’s Starship, Blue Origin’s New Glenn and more.

A rendering of a K2 Space Mega satellite in space.

Credit: K2 Space

The company advertises its Mega satellite for $15 million each and says they’re capable of supporting up to one ton of payload mass each. At that size, K2 would be able to fit 10 Mega satellites in a Falcon 9 rocket.

“We have a pretty modular design, where the customers can dial in just how much payload mass they want, how many satellites they want to launch, and how much propellant they want to carry,” Neel Kunjur said, adding that “the intent is basically to give a customer a menu of options where they can dial it into their given mission needs.”

K2’s upcoming demonstration mission aims to show numerous undisclosed customers that its Mega design works. In addition to discussions with various commercial “large satellite operators,” Karan Kunjur noted that K2 has won about $6.5 million in Department of Defense contracts over the past eight months.

“There are different parts of the DOD that are incredibly excited about the capability that we’re able to offer at the constellation level,” Karan Kunjur said.

A slide from K2 Space’s pitch deck.

Credit: K2 Space

K2 currently has a 15,000 square foot facility in Torrance, California, and 28 employees, many of whom, like Neel Kunjur, boast years of prior experience at SpaceX.

The Kunjurs expect to use the fresh funds to add a 150,000 square foot facility later this year and grow the company to more than 50 employees as it prepares to begin producing satellites.

“The goal is really to get into [the larger facility] by the end of the year and be able to start switching gears into mass production … to really make sure we’re hitting the scale that our customers are asking for,” Karan Kunjur said.

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