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The first country to launch a satellite into space, Russia has never lost interest in the final frontier. And now, it's investing in it -- through I2BF Global Ventures.
A self-proclaimed "leading global technology investment firm," privately held hedge fund and venture capital firm I2BF has been making a series of smallish investments in space tech start-ups of late. Last year, the company made its first investment, of undisclosed size, in planned asteroid miner Planetary Resources. Earlier this month, I2BF invested an additional $20 million in start-up micro- and nano-satellite manufacturer Dauria Aerospace. In return, I2BF received what company founder Ilya Golubovich describes as a "significant minority stake" in Dauria.
This second investment proved to be well-timed. Just a few days later -- Tuesday -- Dauria confirmed that it is cooperating with Korean industrial giant Samsung Electronics to send a 22-kilogram "DX-1" satellite into space before the end of this year -- Dauria's first-ever satellite launch.
Described as a Machine-to-Machine (M2M) satellite, DX-1 will be used by Russian marine transportation agencies to track the movement of vessels on water. Dauria's role will be to first build the satellite, then piggyback it aboard a Roskosmos (Russia's version of NASA) Soyuz or Dnepr rocket, and loft it into orbit. Once there, DX-1 will begin generating low- and medium-resolution data that Dauria can repackage and sell to commercial customers who have need for it.
Going forward, says Golubovich, Dauria aims to launch a second small satellite into orbit sometime in the first half of 2014. In cooperation with launch partners, including Roskosmos and -- potentially -- fellow space pioneers SpaceX or Virgin Galactic -- Dauria could grow its business in a market that Golubovich believes could generate "hundreds of millions" of dollars in revenues for the company over time.