Terran Orbital Merritt Island FL Campus Aerial Render (Source: Terran Orbital PR)

Terran Orbital moves to go public

Satellite manufacturer and soon-to-be PredaSAR SAR constellation operator Terran Orbital last week announced it is going to go public through a SPAC vehicle.  The company expects to raise over $400 million in the process, with the company going public in the first quarter of $2022.

Terran Orbital expects to receive $345 million from the Tailwind Two SPAC company, $50 million from AE Industrial Partners, Beach Point Capital, Daniel Staton, and Lockheed Martin, and an additional $75 million from Francisco Partners and Beach Point Capital. The funding will go to support Terran Orbital’s $300 satellite factory being built in Florida and development and construction of the PredaSAR synthetic aperture radar (SAR) constellation expected grow to 96 satellites and providing global coverage with the ability to deliver imagery anywhere on the face of the planet within 3 to 7 minutes.

“Terran Orbital is the largest independently-owned manufacturer of small satellites in the United States, serving national interests and enabling our customers to leverage the strength of our platform and insights. With our high volume, innovative manufacturing of small satellites, we will be able to deliver emerging technologies to space faster, more affordably and with greater reliability than anyone.  Fundamentally, we are creating the new SaaS, Satellites-as-a-Service,” said Marc Bell, Co-Founder and CEO of Terran Orbital. “In addition, our industry-leading earth observation constellation will deliver images of any geography on earth, at any time of day or night, within minutes. This capability will unlock a high-growth, high-margin data-as-a-service business model that will be truly transformational for Terran Orbital, its customers and investors.”

Terran Orbital has been a relatively low-key company until the past month or so, when it announced its Florida satellite manufacturing facility followed by last week’s SPAC announcement. The SPAC call provided a bit more detail on its PredaSAR constellation announced last year. With a final constellation of 96 satellites, PredaSAR will be able to delivery radar imagery of any point on the planet within 3 to 7 minutes. 

Each PredaSAR satellite is expected to weight in at 350 kilograms, far surpassing the mass of any existing commercial SAR satellite in orbit today.  Bell would not provide any specifics as to what sort of systems would be included onboard the satellite but said a larger satellite would be able to more efficiently and rapidly download imagery because it had more available power.  He would neither confirm nor deny if the communications hardware onboard would include inter-satellite communications links to move imagery faster to ground stations.  He also would not address if there would be some computing capabilities for on-board processing of raw data into usable imagery.

Terran Orbital expects to have 15 or more PredaSAR satellite in orbit by 2023, with each satellite generating $120 million while costing less than $20 million to build, launch and operate over its five year life, according to the company’s CFO.

Doug Mohney

Doug Mohney, a principal at Cidera Analytics, has been working and writing about IT and satellite industries for over 20 years. His real world experience including stints at two start-ups, a commercial internet service provider that went public in 1997 for $150 million and a satellite internet broadband company. Follow him on Twitter at DougonTech or contact him at dmohney139 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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