Note: This is an AI-generated memo produced using our in-house tool (in Beta) and provides key qualitative information on the startup
Lyon (Brad) King, CEO
Lyon (Brad) King, the CEO at Orbion Space Technology, holds an impressive educational background in Aerospace Engineering, earning a Ph.D. and a Master's Degree from the University of Michigan. His extensive research as a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Michigan is particularly relevant to his current role, as his doctoral dissertation focused on transport property and mass spectral measurements in the plasma exhaust plume of an SPT-100 Hall-effect thruster. Lyon's work as the Ron and Elaine Starr Professor of Space Systems Engineering at Michigan Technological University contributed to his expertise in advanced space propulsion technologies, including Hall-effect plasma thrusters, aligning well with Orbion's propulsion systems. His leadership experience as the CEO of Orbion and Aerophysics, Inc. further enhances his qualifications, as both companies are involved in spacecraft component development and consulting for space applications.
Jason Sommerville, CTO
Jason Sommerville, the CTO at Orbion Space Technology, brings a diverse background to his role. With a Ph.D. in Electric Spacecraft Propulsion from Michigan Tech, his educational foundation aligns with Orbion's focus on propulsion systems. His extensive experience includes serving as President of UPVI, LLC, Chief Technologist at Aerophysics, Inc., and Graduate Research Assistant at Michigan Technological University. These roles encompass research, design, and development of spacecraft propulsion components, making him a valuable asset to Orbion. His certification as a Certified LabVIEW Developer and proficiency in simulations and Matlab add to his technical skillset. Overall, Jason's multidisciplinary expertise and entrepreneurial experience make him well-suited for his position as CTO at Orbion Space Technology.
Jason Makela, VP - Engineering
Jason Makela, the VP - Engineering at Orbion Space Technology, brings a wealth of experience to his role. He earned a Bachelor's and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University, where he engaged in the Ion Space Propulsion Lab and Aerospace Enterprise. This academic foundation aligns with Orbion's focus on space propulsion technology. His experience as Chief & Project Engineering Specialist at Aerojet Rocketdyne, leading the development of Electric Propulsion technologies, and his role as Chief Engineer at Aerophysics Inc, preparing proposals and working on flex-fuel engine prototypes, are directly relevant to his current position. Additionally, his tenure as an Adjunct Faculty member at Michigan Technological University underscores his dedication to education and technical expertise.
Rob Washeleski, VP - Flight Programs
Rob Washeleski, the VP - Flight Programs at Orbion Space Technology, boasts a comprehensive career in aerospace engineering. He holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in Space Propulsion from Michigan Technological University. Rob's roles at Orbion Space Technology, including VP - Flight Programs and Engineering Specialist, demonstrate his ability to direct flight programs and manage the development of propellant management systems, aligning with Orbion's mission. His extensive experience at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, where he managed space component procurements, led propulsion system development, and served as a technical expert, has undoubtedly contributed to his leadership at Orbion. His graduate research at Michigan Technological University and internships at TRW and NASA Glenn Research Center further reinforce his expertise in space propulsion.
Orbion positions itself as a vanguard in the small satellite revolution with its high-performance Hall-effect propulsion systems that can power various missions. The firm has patented several pivotal technologies that underpin its innovation-driven agenda. One such invention is an on-board propulsion testing apparatus that offers an interface assembly, designed to seamlessly connect an on-board propulsion system to a testing facility, enabling efficient quality checks and performance assessments. Moreover, Orbion has patented a state-of-the-art propulsion system for spacecraft. This system boasts a thrust generator, integrated with a propellant storage unit, and is complemented by a unique control assembly. Notably, the control assembly can regulate the mode of operation of the thrust generator, choosing between two distinct modes – one that employs propellant to electrostatically generate thrust and another that utilizes propellant in a gas-dynamic manner, offering a level of flexibility that is crucial for various space missions.
In addition to these, Orbion has innovated and patented a magnetic field source specifically designed for Hall-effect thrusters, incorporating an intricate arrangement of inner and outer guide members. This ensures optimized magnetic properties during the thruster's operation. Finally, their patent titled Hall-effect thruster is an assembly that showcases a plethora of magnetic sources, strategically positioned to create a magnetic circuit, which further augments the efficiency of the propulsion system.
These patents, taken collectively, paint a picture of a company that is not only at the forefront of propulsion technology but also heavily invested in its continuous refinement and enhancement, making it a potential key player in the satellite propulsion industry.
Orbion and Busek are both key players in the electric space propulsion systems industry, offering a variety of thrusters to meet diverse mission requirements. However, Orbion distinguishes itself with its Aurora propulsion system, which features dual-mode operation for on-demand thrust increase, a crucial element for agile collision avoidance. The company's Thruster Configurator also allows for customizable solutions, ensuring each propulsion system aligns with the unique demands of each mission. Furthermore, Orbion's innovative "Oh $h!t" Button provides an immediate thrust increase for emergency collision avoidance, offering satellites the agility needed during critical moments.
In the small satellite industry, Orbion and Exotrail are competitors, both providing solutions to optimize small satellite performance. Yet, Orbion's cutting-edge Hall-effect propulsion system, the Aurora, gives it a distinct advantage. This system delivers superior performance and efficiency, with the ability to amplify thrust by 100x on demand, making agile collision avoidance effortless. The Aurora system also offers a bespoke approach, allowing clients to customize the propulsion system to align perfectly with the unique demands of each mission.
Orbion and Astra compete in the field of electric propulsion systems for satellites, both offering systems that cater to a wide range of missions and prioritize reliability. However, Orbion's Aurora propulsion system, with its dual-mode operation and "Oh $h!t" Button for emergency collision avoidance, offers superior agility and adaptability during critical moments. Orbion's Thruster Configurator also allows clients to input mission-specific requirements, ensuring a tailor-made propulsion system that aligns perfectly with the unique demands of every mission.
Both Orbion and SITAEL offer advanced propulsion systems for satellite missions. While Orbion specializes in Hall-effect propulsion systems, SITAEL provides a range of solutions including small satellites, advanced propulsion, and avionics. However, Orbion's Aurora propulsion system, which offers dual-mode operation and an innovative "Oh $h!t" Button for emergency collision avoidance, sets it apart from its competitors.
Orbion and ExoTerra Resource are competitors in the small satellite propulsion market. Both companies offer electric propulsion systems tailored for small satellites, providing efficient and adaptable solutions for in-space missions. However, Orbion's Aurora propulsion system stands out with its dual-mode operation, allowing for a 100x thrust increase on demand, enabling agile collision avoidance. Orbion's Thruster Configurator offers customizable solutions, ensuring that the propulsion system aligns perfectly with the unique demands of each mission.
High-Performance Hall-effect Propulsion
Orbion's emphasis on Hall-effect propulsion systems indicates a focus on efficiency and performance. Hall-effect thrusters are known for their high specific impulse and longer operational lifetimes, which could translate into extended satellite missions and more value for money for satellite operators.
Simple Command Interface
Orbion's “Fire-and-forget” mechanism makes it user-friendly. Satellite operators can benefit from a simplified control mechanism, potentially reducing errors and the need for continuous monitoring.
The ability to increase thrust up to 100x on demand gives Orbion's system an edge in terms of agility. This can be critical for missions requiring rapid maneuvering, such as collision avoidance or swift orbital adjustments. Orbion has a critical patent on this concept.
Orbion Space Technology has made significant strides in establishing its presence in the rapidly growing space economy. In recent times, the company opened a new rocket factory in Houghton and further expanded its infrastructure with the launch of a Plasma Thruster Facility. This not only indicates Orbion's commitment to leading in space propulsion technology but also augments its manufacturing capabilities.
Economic and Local Impact
Orbion's establishment and growth are vital for Houghton's economy. The creation of high-paying jobs and investments in local facilities suggest that the company is here for the long haul. Its economic impact in the region showcases its role as a major player, not just in the space industry but also in community development.
Partnerships and Collaborations
Orbion's ability to secure strategic partnerships and contracts speaks volumes about its industry credibility. The company has been contracted to supply propulsion systems for significant projects, such as the U.S. Space Force prototype weather satellite and DARPA's Blackjack satellites. Collaborative ventures with entities like General Atomics and Plexus Corp further broaden its reach and operational capabilities.
Financial Health and Investor Confidence
Orbion's financial trajectory appears positive. The company successfully secured $20 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round, which followed its prior successful Series A funding round of $9.2 million. Such investor interest and financial backing indicate strong confidence in Orbion's business model and future potential.