a16z-backed Apex Space opens new factory to ramp satellite bus production

When Apex Space emerged from stealth last October, the company had a provocative goal: remove the “new bottleneck” hitting the space industry by manufacturing satellite buses at scale.

To get there, Apex announced today that it has opened a new headquarters and production facility in California that will eventually scale up to manufacture 50 satellite platforms annually. The new facility, which stretches 46,000 square feet, is “essential for meeting customer demand,” Apex CEO Ian Cinnamon said in a statement.

“Our customers are seeking spacecraft with shorter lead times, and Factory One will deliver,” he said.

Apex wants to disrupt one of the more entrenched parts of the space industry. In general, satellite buses have been built to order at a very high cost and with very long lead times. But watershed changes to the industry, including the decreased cost to launch mass to space, have opened up whole new customer segments looking to send their payload into orbit.

The company is planning on offering three satellite bus classes to start: the smaller, 100-kilogram bus called Aries, which will be able to support payloads up to 100 kilograms; a larger bus called Nova, which can accommodate payloads up to 230 kilograms; and an even larger bus, Comet, to carry up to 500 kilograms. Apex is planning on flying its first Aries on SpaceX’s Transporter-10 rideshare mission scheduled for the first quarter of next year.

Apex is aiming to scale the factory over the next handful of years. Right now, the company is due to deliver five Aries platforms for customers in 2024 and aims to ramp up output to 20 spacecraft by 2025.

The company has raised more than $35 million so far across a seed and Series A, from backers including Andreessen Horowitz and Shield Capital.