Noosphere Venture Partners, which earlier announced it was being forced to sell its share in the launch vehicle manufacturer by the federal government, is selling a portion of Firefly Aerospace to AE Industrial Partners.

The firms announced on February 24 that AEI (AE Industrial Partners) had purchased Firefly from Noosphere and would take a “significant interest” in the company. The deal’s value and other terms were not disclosed by the firms.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which examines foreign investment in American companies, requested that Noosphere, a fund managed by Ukrainian-born businessman Max Polyakov, divest its stake in Firefly.

The transaction to AEI appears to contradict Polyakov’s February 16 Facebook post, in which he claimed to be selling his Firefly stake to Tom Markusic, the co-founder, for one dollar. “I am giving up all of my 58 percent share in Firefly to my co-founder and also partner Tom for one dollar payment,” he stated. “Dear CFIUS, Air Force, and 23 other US government agencies that have deceived and judged me in all of your activities over the past 15 months, I hope you are now content.”

AEI has made investments in a number of space enterprises. In 2020, it formed Redwire Space by acquiring Deep Space Systems, Adcole Maryland Aerospace, and Made In Space. Since then, Redwire has acquired several other businesses and, in September 2021, went public via a SPAC merger.

Aside from its participation in the founding of Redwire, AEI has invested in several other companies in the field. It took part in a PIPE fundraising round for Virgin Orbit, a small launch vehicle firm, as a portion of a SPAC merger disclosed in August, and another PIPE for Terran Orbital, as part of a SPAC merger revealed in October. Sierra Space raised $1.4 billion in Series A funding in November, sponsored by General Atlantic, Coatue, and Moore Strategic Ventures.

AEI’s portfolio firms have done considerable work in the national security space industry, according to the statement. “AEI believes that utilizing this experience is going to be a major advantage as Firefly seeks further federal government contracts in the United States,” the report concluded.

The firms did not say when they anticipate the acquisition to finish, citing regulatory approvals as a stumbling block. When Noosphere announced the sale in December, Firefly announced that it was delaying preparations for a second deployment of its own Alpha small launch vehicle at Vandenberg Space Force Base. In September, one of the rocket’s four first-stage engines failed shortly after liftoff, preventing the flight from reaching orbit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.