Boeing HorizonX Invests In Satellite Propulsion Developer Accion Systems

Boeing [BA] on Wednesday said its venture unit HorizonX has invested in Accion Systems, a startup that is developing tiny thrusters for satellite propulsion.

Boeing said that Massachusetts-based Accion’s Tiled Ionic Liquid Electrospray in-space propulsion system offers is smaller, lighter and more cost-effective than traditional ion engines. It also said the postage stamp-size thrusters are non-toxic and are meant to increase the lifespan and maneuverability of satellites and other space vehicles.

Accion Systems' Tiled Ionic Liquid Electrospray 500 thruster. Photo: Accion Systems

Accion Systems' Tiled Ionic Liquid Electrospray 500 thruster. Photo: Accion Systems

Boeing doesn’t divulge the value of the investments made by HorizonX, which have been averaging about one a month for the past 18 months. Two years ago Accion raised $7.5 million in a Series A financing round. A spokesman for Accion said that with the new bridge round from Boeing, that also includes GETTYLAB, Accion has now raised $13 million.

“Accion’s scalable technology can help bring game-changing capabilities to satellites, space vehicles and customers,” Brian Schettler, managing director of HorizonX, said in a statement. “Investing in startups with next-generation concepts accelerates satellite innovation, unlocking new possibilities and economics in Earth orbit and deep space.”

In addition to the investment rounds, Accion has also received more than $8.5 million in contracts from the Defense Department and government over the past three years. The company has about 30 employees and the new funding will help with hiring additional personnel and grow its manufacturing. Boeing also said its investment will help Accion connect with the company’s “experts, resources and state-of-the art facilities.”

Boeing said its latest investment is part of a continuing effort to adopt and develop next-generation technologies for satellites. In September, HorizonX invested in BridgeSat Inc., which is developing advanced optical communications for space, and Boeing acquired Millennium Space Systems, which develops and makes small satellites for national security and civil space uses.

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