Spanish rocket startup PLD Space raises €9 million to close a €17 million Series A investment round that will see the company deploying reusable rockets into space by 2019.
I am proud to say that everything is being developed in Spain: Design, Manufacturing, Integration, Qualification, and the future Launch, which increases Spain’s competitiveness and brings added value to our national aerospace industry
The latest round of funding will allow Spanish “Microlauncher” startup, PLD Space, to start manufacturing two complete reusable ARION 1 rockets that will be ready to fly into space in 2019 from the CEDEA “El Arenosillo” test range in Huelva, belonging to the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA).
In addition, PLD Space will expand its propulsion test facilities at the Teruel airport to include testing of more rocket engines and a new test bench for complete rocket stages.
“We are in the process of manufacturing our first two space rockets, and we hope to start their integration and testing by the end of this year,” said PLD Space Co-Founder and CEO Raúl Torres in a statement.
“It’s the beginning of a new era in our company, very nice but complex, because for the first time, we’re going face to face with building our first space launcher.”
In January 2017, PLD Space announced a successful fundraising of €7.8 million in its first tranche of Series A financing round, which allowed the company to grow from 6 to 40 employees today, as well as carry out the engineering development of the ARION 1 suborbital launch vehicle.
“I am proud to say that everything is being developed in Spain: Design, Manufacturing, Integration, Qualification, and the future Launch, which increases Spain’s competitiveness and brings added value to our national aerospace industry, which is strategically important at international level,” said the PLD Space CEO.
This year in May, the second investment tranche of €9 million was completed, comprised of €7.1 million of private investment and €1.9 million of public investment.
Among the new investors are the Spanish aeronautical company Aciturri, founded by Ginés Clemente, and the Spanish investment fund JME Venture Capital, led by José Manuel Entrecanales, CEO of Acciona, one of the largest infrastructure and renewable energy companies in Spain.
“It is the first time in the history of Europe that a venture capital fund like JME has decided to invest in space launchers, something that until now had only happened in the United States. It is undoubtedly a milestone in the history of the European Venture Capital,” said Joaquín Durán, financial advisor of PLD Space.
The main objective of the Elche-based PLD Space is to provide launchers that are reusable. To recycle them, they have to make them return as safe and sound as possible after their job in space. Therefore, PLD Space equips them with parachutes and other propulsive landing technology.
PLD’s ‘Arion 1’ will be used for the commercial launch of 100 to 200-kilogram payloads to suborbital altitudes for scientific investigation and technological research in situations of microgravity. Arion 1 will include hardware and software necessary for its later recuperation and recycling.
The development of Arion 1 led PLD to the creation of a second rocket, ‘Arion 2’. It’s an evolved version of the Arion 1 and to be used for low Earth orbit. Commercially it will be used to launch satellites, a market that is believed to grow exponentially over the next decade.
“The PLD Space project is a commitment to the space sector that fits perfectly with our diversification strategy, which, in addition to our support as a financial partner, we believe we can provide with our knowledge and technology,” said Aciturri’s Chief Strategy Officer, Álvaro Fernández Baragaño in a statement on the latest round of funding.
In the case of the technology group GMV, which became a stakeholder of PLD Space in December 2016, it once again opts for PLD Space, maintaining its stake in the company and continuing with the development of the avionics of the ARION 1 rocket.
GMV’s 12-member technical team, led by Emanuele Di Sotto, GMV’s head of the Launchers and Re-entry Systems division, coordinates the AVIOAR (Avionics for ARION) project which is currently working on the development and qualification of the ARION 1 flight avionics, set to be ready for its maiden flight next year.