The private equity firm acquired York Space Systems and Firefly Aerospace within months of each other. Now both have used the PE firm's backing for their own purchases.
York Space Systems
AEI acquired majority ownership in the fall of 2022 to support the small satellite manufacturer's next phase of its strategy to be a leader in that corner of the space market.
York Space Systems has now moved on an acquisition with that backing via the purchase of Emergent Space Technologies, a developer of software for missions involving multiple spacecraft.
Laurel, Maryland-headquartered Emergent opened for business in 2001 with the goal of bringing more modern IT solutions into the aerospace industry. Emergent's government customers include NASA and agencies in the defense and intelligence communities.
Emergent touts the core areas of focus for its software including guidance, navigation and control; and positioning, navigation and timing.
“We view the continued growth of our software capabilities as a critical step in expanding York’s offerings and accelerating our ability to execute for all our customers," York's chief executive Dirk Wallinger said in a release. "This major acquisition ensures the right technology and resources are immediately available to deliver exceptional end-to-end mission solutions on time and at the fixed prices each of our customers expects.”
In essence: York is looking to integrate its lineup of spacecraft with Emergent's flight and ground software products to present a more complete offering for federal agencies and certain commercial buyers.
“With the rapid commoditization of satellite hardware, the country’s competitive advantage in space is in the mission software, smart networks, and edge processing," added York's board of directors chairman Charles Beames. "While others have been talking about the future, Emergent’s team has been delivering for the warfighter with the most skilled and experienced team in the industry.”
The startup launch vehicle manufacturer has also moved on its first acquisition with the backing of AEI.
Firefly purchased Spaceflight Inc., a provider of satellite transportation services, in a push to gain more capability in on-orbit servicing of vehicles in space.
Spaceflight Inc. touts its specialty areas as in building orbital transfer vehicles and organizing rideshare space launches, where small payloads go into orbit via another company's launch vehicle.
This acquisition represents Firefly's first as a portfolio company of AEI, which acquired the company in February 2022. Firefly subsequently hired former KeyW chief executive Bill Weber as CEO later in that fall.
"The combination of Spaceflight's on-orbit experience with Firefly's launch vehicles, Blue Ghost landers, and Space Utility Vehicles is an overnight game changer for our customers and investors," Weber said in a release.
Firefly's small launcher called Alpha has missions scheduled through the end of this year with Space Force, NASA and certain commercial customers. In the meantime, Firefly is at work on building a new medium-launch vehicle in partnership with Northrop Grumman.
Austin, Texas-headquartered Firefly also is contracted to complete the first of two missions to the Moon next year via its Blue Ghost lander with NASA as the anchor customer.