Vector-R

A Vector-R prototype lifts off in a 2017 flight test. 

Vector Launch Inc., a Tucson-based small satellite launch startup, has announced that it has halted most operations due to a "significant change in financing."

And in a management shakeup, co-founder Jim Cantrell, who had been Vector's chief executive officer, reportedly is no longer with the company and co-founder John Garvey was named CEO.

The news outlet Spacenews.com reported that the company's decision came after a major investor pulled it backing.

"In response to a significant change in financing, Vector Launch Inc. (Vector) announced today that it is undertaking a pause of operations," the company said in a news release late Friday.

After successful suborbital launches, Vector has suffered a delay of more than a year in launching the first orbital flight of its small rocket and portable launch system. The company also has been demonstrating rocket and small-launch capabilities for NASA and the Defense Department.

Last week, Vector was awarded a $3.4 million Air Force contract to lift multiple experimental "cubesat" satellites into low-earth orbit under a program know as Agile Small Launch Operational Normalizer (ASLON).

"A core team is evaluating options on completing the development of the company’s Vector-R small launch vehicle, while also supporting the Air Force and other government agencies on programs such as the recent ASLON-45 award," the company said.

The company said it plans to make more information available next week.

Founded in 2016 by Cantrell, a veteran of Elon Musk's SpaceX, along with rocket expert Garvey and other tech-industry veterans, Vector has been backed by more than $90 million from major venture-capital firms, including a $70 million funding round last year.

Major investors include New York-based Kodem Growth Partners, Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Shasta Ventures.

As of February, the company reported about 70 local employees and another 80 at sites in Huntington Beach and San Jose, California.

Reporter

David joined the Star in 1997, after working as a consumer and business reporter in Phoenix for more than a decade. A graduate of Ohio University, he has covered most business beats focusing on technology, defense and utilities. He has won several awards.