Satellite Maker York Space Systems Makes Billion-Dollar Deal with Private Equity

AE Industrial Partners (AEI) has announced that it is acquiring a majority stake in York Space Systems, a satellite manufacturer, spacecraft builder, and turnkey mission operator.

Denver, Colorado-based York Space sold the majority stake to AEI for $1.125 billion, according to an announcement from the two firms last week. York Space was founded in 2012 to produce satellites and has most famously participated in projects such as the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency Transport Layer Tranche 0 and Tranche 1.

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With over $1 billion in past contracts, there’s also a high demand for York Space’s S-Class platform (small 400 lbs. satellites) and LX-Class Bus (medium-sized 775 lbs. satellites) as some government agencies look to swap out large spacecrafts for more compact vehicles.

York’s manufacturing plants recently expanded to accommodate the building of up to 70 satellites at a time or 750 satellites per year. The company is the “last remaining independent satellite manufacturer in the United States,” according to Kirk Konert, an AEI Partner. He adds that York dominates the small satellite (smallsat) market with their streamlined bus design, and its manufacturing process is rapid and cost-effective for defense and commercial contracts.

This isn’t AEI’s first venture into the spacecraft market. It acquired Redwire Space in 2020 after buying out Adcole Maryland Aerospace, Deep Space Systems, and Made In Space. AEI has also invested in Virgin Orbit, Terran Orbital, and Sierra Space. Some experts say that AEI is following the trend of other large firms, as Lockheed Martin Ventures invested in Terran Orbital in 2017, Boeing purchased Millennium Space Systems in 2018, and Raytheon Technologies purchased Blue Canyon Technologies in 2020.

Marc Bell, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Terran Orbital, told Space News that AEI’s many investments and acquisitions are a great positive for the industry and “a huge validator” for the satellite bus manufacturing sphere.