Chinese Space Launch Startup iSpace Nets US$172M Series B

iSpace will use the fresh funds to develop its space launch vehicle Hyperbola 2

Chinese aerospace startup iSpace has raised approximately US$172 million (RMB1,192.5 million) in a Series B funding round from a consortium of investors, the startup announced in a press release on Wednesday.

The round was led by Beijing Financial Street Capital Operation Center, CICC Alpha, Guanghe Xincheng, Taizhonghe Capital, Sequoia Capital China Fund, and CITIC Securities.

Other investors who participated in the round include China Merchants Securities, Xuanshi Tiancheng, Shanghai Science and Technology Fund, Yinshengtai Capital, Linglong Jinshan Equity Investment, Yaxiang Xingtai, Kailian Capital, Zhuhai Shunlian, and Nanping Baiyi, according to the statement.

Existing shareholders Jingwei China, CDH Investment, and Ganquan Capital also participated in the latest round of financing, the statement noted.

The fresh funds will be used to develop the startup’s ‘Hyperbola’ space launch vehicle, Focus One reusable liquid oxygen methane engines, and to build and train new talent and teams, the statement added.

Also known as Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Ltd., iSpace became the first private company to launch a satellite that achieved orbit in July 2019. The startup’s first solid rocket Hyperbola 1 launched from the Gobi Desert and delivered two commercial satellites in an orbit roughly 300 kilometers above Earth.

The startup is currently working on the development of its second rocket Hyperbola 2, with a liquid oxygen-methane engine which is reusable, according to a report by SpaceNews. Hyperbola 2 also has vertical landing capabilities, similar to Falcon 9 of SpaceX.

iSpace claims to have independently researched and developed the Focus One reusable liquid oxygen methane engine, and the startup has completed a series of ground tests such as full-system long-range trials, secondary start trials, and large-scale continuous variable thrust trials, the statement said.

Founded in 2016, iSpace plans to continue the commercial launch of the small solid launch vehicle Hyperbola 1, the small liquid reusable launch vehicle Hyperbola 2, and the medium liquid reusable launch vehicle Hyperbola 3. It also intends to continue research on Engine Focus One, the reusable liquid oxygen methane engine, the statement noted.

The startup plans to conduct a 100-kilometer-level vertical takeoff and landing test of the first sub-class of Hyperbola 2, and perform the first flight and first-class vertical recovery mission of the first flight of Hyperbola 2 in 2021, the statement added.

In the future, iSpace hopes to further explore suborbital travel and venture into commercial space station construction, other large-scale space applications, and deep space exploration, the press release added.

The startup has raised $276.5 million to date, including its current haul, according to Crunchbase data.

With low-orbit satellite internet picking up traction globally, the need for satellite launch vehicles is going to increase in the near future. According to a report by Frost And Sullivan, 20,425 satellites will be launched globally between 2019 and 2030.

Furthermore, the small satellite launch market is expected to reach $28 billion by 2030, representing a potentially huge market for companies like iSpace, the report noted.

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