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Lockheed Martin Corp. has increased its investment in nanosatellite company Terran Orbital.

The Irvine, California, company announced Monday it closed a $36 million funding round led by existing investor Lockheed (NYSE: LMT) as well as new investors Beach Point Capital and Goldman Sachs.

Terran Orbital will use the funding to purchase new manufacturing equipment and expand its workforce.

Lockheed’s venture arm made an initial investment in Terran Orbital about a year ago — somewhere between $500,000 and $5 million (specific awards were not disclosed).

Terran Orbital bills itself as the largest manufacturer of nanosatellites in the world. It launched four years ago and counts customers in the commercial, civil and defense markets. The nanosatellites it designs — some of which can fit into your hand — have their own capabilities and sets of missions, powering high-speed radios as well as high-resolution synthetic aperture radar payloads used by the military, NASA and other government agencies to map planets and gather battlefield intelligence. The U.S. government has purchased work from Terran through a Lockheed contract.

Lockheed Martin Ventures Executive Director Chris Moran said in a statement the company chose to expand its relationship with Terran Orbital as an investor and customer to support Lockheed’s compact, low-cost LM 50 satellite series.

Moran told the Washington Business Journal in June he’d like an entire portfolio of Terran Orbitals, shedding some light on how the world’s largest defense contractor is thinking about the money it invests in cutting-edge startups whose products might still be a few years away.

The small, low-cost satellite industry is growing, with an estimated $13 billion pouring into the market since 2000.


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