A number of startups have sprung up in recent years to meet the growing demand from satellite providers, biotech companies, and others looking to launch payloads into space. One such startup is Germany’s Isar Aerospace Technologies, which focuses on the construction of orbital launch vehicles that are designed to carry up to 1,000 kilograms into low-earth orbit.
The startup hit the headlines last December – including here at TechCrunch – when it hit a $ 91 million Series B, the biggest round on the European space launch scene to date. Now the company says it raised an additional $ 75 million in a Series B expansion, bringing the total round to over $ 165 million.
The extension round was chaired by HV Capital, Porsche SE and the Lombard Odier banking group. Existing investors Earlybird Venture Capital, Lakestar, Vsquared Ventures, Apeiron Investment Group and UVC Partners also participated, with Earlybird subscribing the largest amount. Earlybird and Airbus Ventures led Isar’s $ 17 million Series A in December 2019.
The participation of Porsche SE – a major shareholder of Volkswagen – is particularly interesting as it signals a growing interest on the part of established mobility investors in connectivity and space-based technologies.
“As an investor with a focus on mobility and industrial technology, we are convinced that inexpensive and flexible access to space will be an important enabler for innovations in traditional industries as well as for new and disruptive technologies and business models,” said the executive board of Porsche SE Das said member Lutz Meschke in a statement. “We are therefore pleased to support Isar Aerospace on its way to becoming the leading European small launcher and to meet the increasing demand for launch services.”
Funding is likely to give a significant boost to further development and manufacturing as the company nears its planned first test flight in 2022.
This year the Isar started production of its first launch vehicle, the Spectrum rocket. Spectrum is a two-tier vehicle designed for easy transportation into low earth orbit. The idea is to develop a launcher that can move quickly and cheaply to small satellite companies. Isar is aiming to conduct engine tests in Kiruna, Sweden, and launch operations in nearby Andøya, Norway, thanks to a 20-year agreement with Andøya Space for exclusive access to one of its launch pads. In particular, the Isar has already won its first paying customer, Airbus Defense and Space, and announced in a statement that it would soon announce further contracts.
The startup emerged from the Technical University of Munich, where co-founders Daniel Metzler, Josef Fleischmann and Markus Brandl studied engineering. While many of the new start-up companies are based in the USA, the Isar is leading a parallel wave in Germany.
“A competitive and diverse space ecosystem will be of crucial importance for humanity in the coming decades,” said Isar CEO Daniel Metzler in a statement. “We are convinced that European cooperation, a level playing field for all players and a needs-based approach will give customers access to different and internationally competitive launch options for a wide range of payloads. The US has shown that demand-oriented cornerstones – rather than political parameters – prepare the ground for innovation and growth in the space sector. “