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Satellite startups turn to reinventing broadband, mapping and other industries

Jason Rowley Contributor Jason Rowley is a venture capital and technology reporter for Crunchbase News . More posts by this contributor Old VC firms hold entrenched position in fundraising despite fresh entrants The largest buys of tech’s Big Five: a look at M&A deals Smartphones have disrupted transportation, payments and communication. But the underlying technology has tangentially changed a completely different sector: satellites. The advances made in miniaturizing technologies that put a computer in your pocket — cameras, batteries, processors, radio antennas — have also made it easier and cheaper for entrepreneurs to launch matter into space. And investors are taking notice. The chart below shows worldwide venture and PE investment in satellite technology companies. Venture investment into satellite companies has been on a rocket-like trajectory since 2012, following a long fallow period. Although it isn’t pictured here, the last “major” satellite boom peaked in 2006, when there were five venture deals closed with satellite companies worldwide, according to our data set. Let’s take a look at some of the major players in the satellite sector. Below you can find a chart showing the most-funded private companies currently operating in the industry. We ranked them by total funding, which includes private equity rounds raised after traditional VC rounds (like seed, Series A, etc.). In general, these satellite companies are clustered around three different themes: broadband internet delivery, hardware development and satellite-enabled services. On the broadband front, we find a significant concentration of capital. It’s not just because internet connectivity is such a big market (it is), but it also takes a lot of capital to develop and deploy the satellites needed to build a viable service network. That’s part of the reason why  SoftBank  invested $1 billion in  a $1.2 billion private equity round  raised by  OneWeb  back in 2016

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Pornhub made a VPN

Arguably the biggest adult video website on the planet, Pornhub is responsible for plenty of folks getting their rocks off each day. But, as regulations on the internet trend rightward, access to adult content is becoming a problem. That's why...

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NASA’s InSight Mars lander will gaze (and drill) into the depths of the Red Planet

NASA’s latest mission to Mars, InSight , is set to launch early Saturday morning in pursuit of a number of historic firsts in space travel and planetology. The lander’s instruments will probe the surface of the planet and monitor its seismic activity with unprecedented precision, while a pair of diminutive CubeSats riding shotgun will test the viability of tiny spacecraft for interplanetary travel. Saturday at 4:05 AM Pacific is the first launch opportunity, but if weather forbids it, they’ll just try again soon after — the chances of clouds sticking around all the way until June 8, when the launch window closes, are slim to none. InSight isn’t just a pretty name they chose; it stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, at least after massaging the acronym a bit. Its array of instruments will teach us about the Martian interior, granting us insight (see what they did there?) into the past and present of Mars and the other rocky planets in the solar system, including Earth. Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator for the mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has been pushing for this mission for more than two decades, after practically a lifetime working at the place. “This is the only job I’ve ever had in my life other than working in the tire shop during the summertime,” he said in a recent NASA podcast . He’s worked on plenty of other missions, of course, but his dedication to this one has clearly paid off. It was actually originally scheduled to launch in 2016, but some trouble with an instrument meant they had to wait until the next launch window — now. InSight is a lander in the style of Phoenix , about the size of a small car, and shot towards Mars faster than a speeding bullet. The launch is a first in itself: NASA has never launched an interplanetary mission from the West coast, but conditions aligned in this case, making California’s Vandenberg air base the best option. It doesn’t even require a gravity assist to get where it’s going. Did you know?

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