Xplore acquires belongings of Kubos flight software program firm because it ramps up for first area mission

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An artist’s conception shows Xplore’s satellite platform in low Earth orbit. (Xplore Illustration)

Redmond, Wash.-based Xplore says it’s acquired the assets of Kubos Corp., the creator of cloud-based mission and flight control software for satellites.

Xplore’s co-founder and CEO, Jeff Rich, said in a news release that Kubos’ Major Tom software platform would be used for Xplore’s first space mission, due for launch as early as this fall, “and for all future missions.”

Financial terms of the acquisition were not released — but Xplore is taking on key Kubos employees, including co-founder and ex-CEO Tyler Browder, as part of the deal. “I’m delighted to join the Xplore team as business development director for mission operations,” Browder said. “In my new role I will continue to build and grow the Major Tom platform into an expanded service offering.”

This screenshot shows Major Tom’s flight control dashboard. (Xplore / Kubos Graphic)

Founded in 2017, Xplore aims to provide “space as a service” — a business model that offers data products, sensor tasking, mission operations software and payload hosting to customers. The company is developing the hardware for its missions, including Xcube nanosatellites and Xcraft satellite platforms, at its 22,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Redmond.

Its first planned mission is designed to put hyperspectral and high-resolution video imagers into low Earth orbit. Xplore has said future missions could go to farther-out destinations, including the moon, Mars, Venus and asteroids.

Xplore hasn’t yet specified the precise timing or venue for the first launch, nor has it identified a launch provider.

Kubos was founded in Texas in 2014 and moved its headquarters to Lake Oswego, Ore., during the COVID-19 pandemic. In January 2021, it reported raising $2.88 million in an investment round led by Boost VC.

The company’s Major Tom platform enables satellite operators to perform ground station scheduling, satellite tasking and telemetry monitoring via the cloud. (This Kubos video explains how Major Tom works.)

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“We are a customer-focused commercial space company that is now both a customer and developer of Major Tom,” Lisa Rich, Xplore’s co-founder and chief operating officer, said in today’s news release. “As users, developers and stakeholders, the ability to easily connect and set up command and control systems for satellites and constellations is essential.”

Lisa Rich said the acquisition should help Xplore “continually improve the features and capabilities of our flight-ready mission control system from the inside out.”

She also hinted that this might not be Xplore’s last acquisition.

“We are actively working on new partnerships, and [we] invite founders and businesses to share new acquisition opportunities with us that fit our strategic vision,” she said.

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