Only a year before the first space launch, it is impossible not to look back at 2011, when Raúl Torres and Raúl Verdú decided to found the company, which is about to make history.
PLD Space was born out of passion, effort and hard work. As early as in his childhood, Raúl Torres built a rocket that could fly with the propulsive force of water and compressed air using tools and accessories from his father’s plumbing company. The idea of building a real rocket has always been on his mind and he has been researching and perfecting homemade techniques to build a small model, launch it and then retrieve it with a homemade parachute. His workplace was a small warehouse on a small street in Elche.
In 2009, Raúl Torres and Raúl Verdú met at the university and decided to pursue their dream, continuing with the construction of rockets in the garage of Torres’ house and using Verdú’s computer as a design tool. At the beginning of 2011, together with José Enrique Martínez, current head of facilities, they participated in the 49k competition, focused on giving visibility to young entrepreneurs in which they made it to the finals. At that time their career began to take off and on September 12, 2011 with the help of their families and the University Miguel Hernández (UMH) Science Park, Payload Aerospace S.L. (PLD Space) was incorporated as a company.
“It was the beginning of the dream, which came to materialize. I don’t think any of us could have imagined how far we would go”. – says Raúl Torres, CEO and co-founder of PLD Space.
The first employee of PLD Space was Eleazar González, who is the Technical Director of the company today and arrived when the company was based in a small office of 15 square meters. The three of them put all their efforts to create a sound foundation for the project and so, in 2013, the company managed to close the first round of investment worth 1 million euros. The race for space took off and in 2015 they signed an agreement with Teruel Airport to build the site for Spain’s first rocket engine test bench. After the first tests, the first customers arrived, such as the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). The company continued to receive national support and in 2016 the first contract was signed with the European Space Agency (ESA) for a technological development project within the framework of ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP), known as Liquid Propulsion Stage Recovery (LPSR). All these milestones caught the attention of the space multinational GMV, which at the end of the same year invested in PLD Space and became the company’s investment and technological partner. In 2017 the European Commission also gave its support to the company under the umbrella of the Horizon 2020 program for which the SME Phase 1 and SME Phase 2 projects were started, with an investment of more than 2 million euros. By this time, the company reached 20 employees. At the end of 2017, a second contract was signed with ESA, a study dedicated to analysing the future evolution of the current ARION 1 rocket to a new version that can place satellites in orbit.
This last year has been a year of growth for PLD Space. In May the company closed an investment round of 17 million euros, with the support of Aciturri, JME Venture Capital and GMV, which made it possible to start manufacturing the first two space rockets.
With a workforce of 50 committed employees and the clear objective of successfully launching ARION 1 next year, PLD Space continues on its way into space.