York Space Systems gets new private equity backing

York’s S-CLASS satellite platform.

York’s S-CLASS satellite platform. Courtesy of York Space Systems

The small satellite maker has made significant government market inroads in recent years, including at the Space Development Agency.

Small satellite manufacturer York Space Systems has sold a majority stake of itself to AE Industrial Partners, a private equity firm focused on aerospace and government markets.

Funds and accounts managed by the private equity arm of investment firm BlackRock also are backing York as part of the transaction announced Tuesday. No terms were disclosed.

Denver-headquartered York was founded in 2012 by CEO Dirk Wallinger, who will continue to lead the company alongside Chairman Charles Beams. They will also keep what York calls "significant ownership positions" in the company.

York manufactures satellites for low-Earth geosynchronous equatorial orbits, along with components and other solutions for the larger satellite market that includes small sats.

One key government customer of York's is the Space Development Agency, for whom the company is building satellites as part of two tranches in SDA's missile and hypersonic weapon tracking layer.

"AEI has distinguished itself as a leading investor across the space ecosystem and is the ideal partner for York as we look to rapidly scale the business," Wallinger said in a release. "The firm's deep sector knowledge as well as AEI's experience in aerospace production will be critical as we continue to grow York and deliver for our customers."

York has approximately 165,000 square feet of satellite manufacturing space across Greater Denver that aids in the company's capacity to build at least 750 satellites per year.

With the backing of AEI and BlackRock, York is eyeing further inroads in the government market and certain commercial verticals.

"Backing the largest independent small satellite manufacturer represents a unique opportunity to serve the fast-growing LEO commercialization and national security markets, and we look forward to partnering with Dirk, Chuck and the entire York team during this exciting time in the space industry and at the company," AEI Partner Kirk Konert added.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP acted as legal adviser and Jefferies was exclusive financial adviser to York. Kirkland & Ellis LLP worked as legal adviser and Ernst & Young a financial adviser to AEI.