Today PLD Space, the European microlauncher company is announcing that has been backed with 2 million Euro from the European Commission in order to boost the ARION microlauncher development programme. The grant has been awarded through the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) instrument Phase 2, a part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme for Research and Innovation.
This financial support is currently the biggest public support to PLD Space and one of the biggest European public supports for SMEs.
This grant will help PLD Space to accelerate technological development of the ARION 1 launcher and to contribute to its commercialization in Europe. In addition, 70% of the technologies that will fly into space with ARION 1 next year will be directly transferred to ARION 2, PLD Space´s proposed Spanish small satellite launcher, which will be entirely produced by European industry. ARION 2 is scheduled for its maiden launch in 2021 from European territory.
The SME Instrument is a part of the research and innovation support programme of the European Commission, Horizon 2020. It funds the most innovative projects of small and medium-sized enterprises. The programme aims to strengthen the innovation of European companies and assist in faster introduction of innovative products to the market.
Successful accomplishment of phase 1 has strengthened the commercial case of PLD Space, thanks to the support of the European Commission. “Thanks to this strategical institutional support we are closer to have all the necessary support and resources for a fully commercial launch service dedicated to small payloads in Europe ” said Raúl Torres, PLD Space´s CEO and Co-founder.
The company has previously received technical and programmatic support from the Directorate of European Space Programmes of the Spanish National Space Authority, the CDTI – an organization that is a part of the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.
PLD Space microlauncher development has also been backed previously by the European Space Agency (ESA) with a contract to develop European reusable technologies for launchers under the FLPP (Future Launchers Preparatory Programme) framework. The private sector has been boosting PLD Space microlauncher development ever since the participation of the multinational GMV in December 2016, which invested several millions in PLD Space. GMV owns a stake in the company and is also developing ARION´s Avionics subsystem, including Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC), telemetry, onboard flight hardware and software.
The company has also been supported by European space-related personalities. Mr. Franco Malerba, the first Italian astronaut who flew in the Space Shuttle Mission STS-46 and member of the European Parliament, has been working with PLD Space team during SME phase 1, providing his expertise and knowledge. Mr. Malerba will continue working with PLD Space team and PLD Space foresee the implication of new European astronauts as advisors to the ARION development program.
Raúl Verdú, Chief Business Officer and Co-founder pointed out that the joint support of various public and private organizations is a critical factor for the company growth: “This support strengthens the position of PLD Space in the space industry and increases the confidence of private investors. We are now ready to the next step forward in our company, the closing of an A2 investment round of 8 million Euro very soon”.
ARION microlauncher development programme has been financed by several European and Spanish public and private investors since 2013. Public organizations include the European Space Agency and the European Commission, the Spanish Government thought CDTI and ENISA, both from the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness) as well as more than 30 private Spanish investors. Up to date, the company has raised more than 9 million Euro for the ARION development programme.
“PLD Space would like to thank the European Commission for their support and confidence in our company, our team and the development of a new European launcher which will help strengthen the European space sector and its independence.”