Porsche Automobil Holding SE (Porsche SE), Stuttgart, has acquired a low single-digit percentage stake in Isar Aerospace Technologies (Isar Aerospace), Ottobrunn, Munich, which develops and manufactures launch vehicles for the transport of satellites. The investment was part of a new financing round of Isar Aerospace.
Lutz Meschke member of the board of management responsible for investment management: “As an investor with a focus on mobility and industrial technology, we are convinced that cost-efficient and flexible access to space will be an enabler of innovation in many industry sectors. With Isar Aerospace, we are investing in a company that is well-positioned to establish itself as a leading European manufacturer of launch vehicles.” The rapid development of the company is impressive, Meschke added.
Isar Aerospace plans its initial launch next year and claims to offer a more cost-efficient and flexible launch capacity for satellites with “Spectrum”, the first launch vehicle developed by the company. The cost benefits compared to currently available launch vehicles shall mainly be achieved with a high degree of automation in the rocket production process. Due to the latest advancements in the area of satellite technology and resulting business models, e.g., in the areas of connectivity and earth observation, demand for the launch of small satellites is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. As existing launch capacities are not sufficient or too expensive or inflexible, private companies like Isar Aerospace aim to satisfy this demand in a more cost-effective and flexible way compared to established space companies.
Isar is one of several European start-ups attempting to rival Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin with low-cost satellite launch services to low-earth orbit. Isar will also compete with Arianespace, jointly owned by French aerospace companies Airbus and Safran – the preferred service provider to European space agencies, which has been struggling with delays to its next-generation rocket, Ariane 6. Although this latest generation of Ariane rockets, the latest launch version will still be more expensive than SpaceX’s reusable vehicle.
Airbus, an investor in Isar since 2019, has also contracted with Isar to launch an earth observation satellite. However, the company has yet to launch a single satellite. It has begun production of its Spectrum rocket and will soon begin engine testing in Sweden with a maiden flight slated for summer 2022.
Isar’s new financing round has a total volume of around $75 million. Overall, the company has raised more than $180 million from investors such as HV Capital, Lakestar, Earlybird and Airbus Ventures.