AEI claims a majority stake in York Space Systems

SAN FRANCISCO — AE Industrial Partners announced plans Oct. 4 to acquire a majority stake in York Space Systems, a Denver-based small satellite manufacturer and turnkey mission operator.

Terms of the transaction, which is expected to close by the end of the year, were not disclosed.

“From our perspective, York is the last remaining independent scale satellite manufacturer,” said Kirk Konert, AEI partner. SpaceNews. “They have built a smallsat market-changing business by bussing the design and manufacturing process to bring the technology to both the defense and commercial markets faster and more cost-effectively.”

York has grown rapidly since it was founded in 2012 to produce standard small satellites for a variety of missions. York’s most significant success to date has been its selection to provide spacecraft for the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency’s Transport Layer Tranche 0 and Tranche 1.

In recent years, York has continued to expand its factory, recently opening a facility in the Denver Tech Center that is large enough to produce 70 satellites at a time.

York CEO Dirk Wallinger said in a statement that AEI “is the ideal partner for York as we look to rapidly scale the business. The company’s deep industry knowledge as well as AEI’s experience in aerospace manufacturing will be critical as we continue to grow York and deliver to our customers.”

After the deal with AEI is completed, Wallinger will continue to serve as York’s CEO, and York’s chairman Chuck Beames will remain on York’s board of directors.

“With access to new relationships and capital, this exciting new partnership with AEI ensures York’s continued ability to lead in the delivery of world-class solutions for government and commercial clients,” Beames said in a statement.

AEI remains bullish on the space sector.

“We think space is the best place to invest capital right now,” Konert said. “We are excited about the sector from both a government budget and commercial perspective. Obviously we have an interesting financial macroeconomic background, but that does not prevent us from investing in the sector for the long term.”

AEI formed Redwire Space in 2020 after acquiring Adcole Maryland Aerospace, Deep space Systems and Made In Space. Redwire, which went public in 2021, has since acquired several other companies, including UK defense firm Qinetiq, in a deal announced on October 3. AEI, meanwhile, has invested in Virgin Orbit, Terran Orbital and Sierra Space.

Other small US satellite makers have attracted investors and buyers. Boeing purchased Millennium Space Systems in 2018. Raytheon Technologies acquired Blue Canyon Technologies in 2020.

Lockheed Martin Ventures began investing in Terran Orbital in 2017 and holds a minority stake. However, Terran Orbital remains an independent satellite manufacturer, said Marc Bell, president, CEO and co-founder of Terran Orbital.

Bell called AEI’s investment in York “a huge validation tool” for satellite bus manufacturers.

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