Spaceplane startup raises $3.35 million

Spaceplane start-up raises $3.35 million

Dawn Aerospace, a New Zealand-Dutch start-up building reusable rockets for satellite delivery, has raised $3.35 million (£2.64 million) in investment.

Spaceplane startup raises $3.35 million

Dawn Aerospace will use the money to commercialise its satellite propulsion systems and begin development of its Mk-II Spaceplane.

The company makes reusable rockets designed to carry small satellites into space. Each rocket is designed to be indefinitely reusable and capable of multiple flights per day, much like an aircraft.

Dawn Aerospace also makes propulsion systems for small satellites to allow them to manoeuvre once in space. These systems are non-toxic, unlike most existing satellite rocket fuels.

Mk-II

Successful testing of the Mk-I spaceplane was completed in August this year and development of the Mk-II has begun, Dawn Aerospace says.

The first Dawn Aerospace satellite propulsion system is scheduled to be launched to space from French Guiana in July. Dawn Aerospace’s flagship spacecraft, the Mk-II Spaceplane, is expected to take flight in 2020.

Stefan Powell, Dawn Aerospace co-founder, said: “The Mk-II will be the first-ever vehicle to fly to space twice in a single day,”

“It will be the first in a series of reusable spacecraft that will revolutionise access to space in what is an incredibly exciting time for the industry, especially here in New Zealand. We’ll be using the funding to build the Mk-II and further develop our world-leading non-toxic and non-cryogenic satellite propulsion systems.

“Everything we do at Dawn Aerospace is based on high-frequency reusability. If a piece of hardware cannot be reused on the same day, we are not interested. This makes the systems we develop not only cheaper to use, but also cheaper to develop — more reliable and more environmentally-friendly.”

Founders

The investment round was led by Tuhua Ventures, with investment from Aera VC, as well as Erik Swan: the founder of Splunk. Swan will become the investor director to represent all of the investors in the round.

Dawn Aerospace was founded by five engineers: Kiwi brothers Stefan and James Powell, Jeroen Wink, Tobias Knop and Robert Werner.

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