Co-founded by a leader of SpaceX’s missions operations, Epsilon3 wants to be the OS for space launches
Laura Crabtree spent a good chunk of her childhood watching rocket launches on television, and her entire professional career launching rockets, first at Northrup Grumman and then at SpaceX.
Now, the former senior missions operations engineer at SpaceX is the co-founder and chief executive of a new LA-based space startup called Epsilon3, which says it has developed the operating system for launch operations.
“The tools I had wanted did not exist,” said Crabtree. So when she left SpaceX to pursue her next opportunity, it was a no-brainer to try to develop the toolkit she never had, the first-time entrepreneur said. “I started looking at ways in which I could help the space industry become more efficient and reduce errors.”
Joining Crabtree in the new business is Max Mednik, a serial entrepreneur whose last company, Epirus, raised at least $144.7 million from investors including 8VC, Bedrock Capital and L3 Harris Technologies, and Aaron Sullivan, a former Googler who serves as the chief software engineer. Mednik worked at Google too before turning his attention to entrepreneurship. His previous businesses ranged from financial services software to legal services software, but Mednik also had an interest in aerospace. His first job offers out of school were with SpaceX, JPL and Google.
Part of a growing network of SpaceX alumni launching businesses, Epsilon3, like its fellow travelers First Resonance and Prewitt Ridge, is creating a product around an aspect of the design, manufacturing mission management and operations of rockets that had previously been handled manually or with bespoke tools.
“They make mission management software for the launchers and for the satellite companies that are going to be the payload of the rocket companies,” said Alex Rubalcava, the founder and managing partner of Stage Venture Partners, an investor in the company’s recent seed round. “It’s not just the design and spec but for when they’re actually working what are they doing; when you’re uplinking and downlinking data and changing software.”
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“For us, space and deep tech is hot,” said MaC Ventures co-founder and managing partner, Adrian Fenty. The former mayor of Washington noted the combination of Mednik’s serial entrepreneur status and Crabtree’s deep, deep expertise in the field.
“We had been looking at operating systems in general and thinking that there would be some good ones coming along,” Fenty said. In Epsilon3 the company found the combination of deep space, deep tech and a thesis around developing verticalized operating systems that ticked all the boxes.
“In doing diligence for the company… you just see how big space is and will become as a business,” said Michael Palank, a co-founder and managing partner at MaC Ventures predecessor, M Ventures alongside Fenty. “A lot of the challenges here on Earth will and only can be solved in space. And you need better operating systems to manage getting to and from space.”