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German smallsat startup raises $91 million for new rocket

Capitalism in space: A German startup, dubbed Isar Aerospace, has successfully raised $91 million in private investment capital to finance design and construction of a new rocket aimed at launching smallsats.

It plans to use the money to continue its research, development and production en route to its first commercial launches, planned for early 2022. The launcher is not just significant for its design innovation, but if it proves successful, it would make Isar the first European space company to build a successful satellite launcher to compete in the global satellite market.

The round, a Series B, is being led by Lakestar, with significant contributions also from Earlybird and Vsquared Ventures; additional funding from existing investors like Airbus Ventures, former SpaceX Vice President Bulent Altan, Christian Angermayer’s Apeiron, and UVC; and also new investors HV Capital and Ann-Kristin and Paul Achleitner are also joining the round.

Earlybird and Airbus Ventures led Isar’s previous round of $17 million in December 2019.

There are a lot of such startups right now, the majority of which I expect to fall by the wayside, especially the latecomers. What makes this particular story interesting is that it describes a European company. So far there has not been much activity in the new launch market coming from independent European companies. With the government-run Arianespace dominating the market, it is difficult for private companies to gain a foothold.

This might be changing because of the failure of Arianespace’s Ariane 6 to successfully compete on price with SpaceX, a failure that gives new companies an opening to gain some market share in Europe. The two recent launch failures of Arianespace’s smaller Vega rocket likely helps that new competition as well. Isar’s funding success here might be indicating this.


Conscious Choice cover

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From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


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  • janyuary

    Nobody’s commented on this, darn it, I was hoping to see the insights of savvy folks.
    Germans have traditionally been so very good at anything to do with aviation and rocketry, really all along, though planes themselves got their starts in other nations (airplane, France and US, for example), in both world wars, Germans were cutting-edge designers of wonderful planes, such as the Me262. If I was an aviation/aerospace investor, I’d be inclined to have more confidence in a German company just because of Germany’s past track record.


  • Edward

    You wrote: “Nobody’s commented on this, darn it, I was hoping to see the insights of savvy folks.

    I’m not sure whether you mean technical insights or business insights. I don’t have much on the former, but the latter is that they are getting into a business that has more than a hundred other people or companies saying that they want to enter the competition with Rocket Lab. It seems to me that fewer than a dozen of them will fly anything to orbit. There may or may not be a market for a dozen smallest launch companies.

    To compete, Isar Aerospace will need an advantage. Price is a powerful advantage, since launch services can be seen as a commodity (one launcher is much like another, except for carrying capacity). Since they are designing reusability into the first launch vehicle, their advantage can easily be price, as they don’t have to spend money building a new rocket for each launch. Availability is another possible advantage, because reusing a vehicle allows them to have some available at all times, meaning they could be ready to launch any time a customer wants a ride.

    Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne has an advantage that it can launch from anywhere on the planet (national overflight considerations aside). This gives them flexibility on which orbits they can carry a payload to. However, reusability becomes harder, because recovery sites are limited.

  • janyuary

    Edward — thank you. It is enlightening to see the business strategies and considerations — I tend to think in terms of tech, and very shallowly at that I confess. I only know that in both World Wars, Germany had (arguably, okay) the best airplanes, and German scientists and physicists were coveted by all nations after WW2. Germany had the first jet planes in the Heinkel; before the end of WW2, the Me262 was in design if not use, a fully operational fighter jet, up in the air and doing battle while everyone else was still flying prop planes except I think Britain had a jet plane that acted in a recon capacity, not to shoot back. And the Horten brothers’ Flying Wing — Germany has a fine legacy in aviation.

    Let’s hope the real German geniuses in Germany do like Musk did — move here! And be part of pioneering liberty and self-ownership in the 21st century. There’s only one way to move — forward.

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