Lockheed Martin’s venture capital fund to increase investment in space companies
Lockheed Martin Ventures increases its investments by 200 million dollars and a large part will be devoted to the space field
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Executives from Lockheed Martin and its venture capital arm will meet next week to discuss investment opportunities, and many of them are likely to come from the space sector, said Lockheed Martin vice president Eric Brown.
Lockheed Martin Ventures on August 3 announced plans to double investment in tech startups from $200 million to $400 million. Brown, who leads the advanced development of the company’s military space program, said SpaceNews that “a very significant part” of this additional money in the portfolio will be invested in space-oriented technologies.
In recent years, a number of commercial space ventures have benefited from Lockheed’s venture capital, including a small satellite manufacturer Earth orbitalsmall satellite launcher ABLsatellite refueling start Orbit Fabspatial data relay start Hedronand start navigation Xona Space Systems.
brown said Lockheed Martin Ventures “must behave like a venture capital organization when it comes to returns, but at the same time it is investigating technologies that will be beneficial to the various missions that Lockheed Martin undertakes.”
In internal discussions of various candidate areas for investment, “much of the energy has gone into future phenomenologies and future computing,” Brown said. Quantum computing is of particular interest for space applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence.
For sensors, the company is interested in non-traditional phenomenologies to capture data from space.
One area of interest is “how we relate the space piece to weapons systems,” Brown said. “We are looking at advanced processing and computational capabilities that allow you to start taking all the data formed in orbit and activate other systems in other areas such as the cockpit of an F-35 fighter jet or missile systems developed by Lockheed Martin. ”
In-orbit logistics is another area where Lockheed Martin is looking for opportunities. The company is already investing in Orbit Fab, but would also be interested in satellite service technologies to complement what Lockheed Martin is already doing with hospitality technology to make satellites interoperable and easier to update in orbit.
There’s a lot of money for research into robotic arms for spacecraft, Brown noted. “That’s great. But if you can’t connect to the satellite, then you’re really taking things out and sticking them outside.
In conversations with US military leaders, Brown said he often tries to argue that the DoD should try to leverage startup innovation.
It doesn’t require a major restructuring of programs, Brown said. “It’s really about having enough flexibility in the acquisition processes and adapting, even mid-program, to new and emerging technologies,” he said. In military space programs, “there are many opportunities for ramp-up technologies, relative to the expectation of the next generation.”
When you’re working with startups, “you’re inherently going to have things that aren’t as proven that you want to take a risk on,” he said. “And the government procurement environment has to allow for that sort of thing.”