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PLD Space Adds GMV as Partner, Receives 6.7 Million Euro Investment

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
January 9, 2017
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 ARION 1 & 2 technology demonstration. (Credit; PLD Space)

ARION 1 & 2 technology demonstration. (Credit; PLD Space)

ELCHE, Spain, January 9, 2017 (PLD Space PR) — The International Tech Company GMV, with an important presence in the global space sector, has decided to trust in the PLD Space project and will take part in the ownership of the young space company as shareholder. GMV will also develop key technology and will work together with PLD Space in the development of the ARION 1 and ARION 2 launchers, an activity that will enable both companies to grow and position themselves strategically in the small space-launchers market.

The corporative endorsement of GMV enables PLD Space to raise a total investment of 6.7 million euros; between private investment through 2 Spanish investment vehicles and institutional funding coming from the contribution of Spanish government (CDTI and ENISA), public administrations (SUMA Teruel, IVF) and the European Commission (SME Phase1).

Under this investment agreement, GMV as reference company in the worldwide aerospace sector, will bring to PLD Space its more than 30 years of excellence and experience to develop all the avionics subsystem of ARION 1 and ARION 2, including Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC), Telemetry and Flight Software of both rocket launchers.

In addition, GMV team will work closely with the PLD Space team in the integration, qualification and launch support operations for ARION1 and ARION 2, and during both test and commercial flights. These operations are targeted to begin in late 2018 with the maiden flight of ARION 1 from the southwest Spanish launch base called “El Arenosillo”, in Huelva.

ARION1, will have two main purposes highly important for the success of this endeavour. At commercial level, this rocket will serve as frequent and cost-effective launch vehicle for scientific research and technology development in space conditions for worldwide costumers. At technology evel, ARION 1 will be used as test platform and the predecessor of ARION 2, a more ambitious vehicle that will launch small satellites into orbit, starting in mid. 2020.

GMV has recently participated in other similar space developments, including several European Space Agency (ESA) vehicles, such as the European launch vehicle VEGA the IXV re-entry vehicle.

GMV has also participated in avionics technology research projects applied to launchers, such as the SPARTAN technology demonstrator (Space Exploration Research for Throttleable Advanced Engine) or the avionics test bench for the next generation of transport vehicles NGT-ATB (New Generation Launcher and Space Transportation Advanced Avionics Testbed), for the European Commission and European Space Agency, respectively.

This important milestone in the history of PLD Space follows the recent contract awarded by the European Space Agency (ESA) to PLD Space for the development of rocket technologies to enable launchers reusability under the FLPP (Future Launchers Preparatory Program). The recently approved ESA project, called Liquid Propulsion Stage Recovery (LPSR), will enable PLD Space to return from space the entire ARION 1 and the first stage of ARION 2, reducing the costs of access to space for small satellites. The technology developments and conclusions drawn from this project are expected to be applicable to other future launchers developed by PLD Space, as well as by ESA.

The small satellite market, mainly focused on telecommunications and earth observation is quantified at more than 7 billion dollars in 2020 and aims to be the new technological revolution in the space sector.

With this investment, PLD Space will begin the complete development of ARION 1 and all the facilities required for its manufacture, integration, testing and launch. Currently, PLD Space’s main offices are in the UMH Science Park, while the propulsion test bench is located at Teruel Industrial Airport. The company will move during 2017 to its new headquarters where PLD Space will carry out the manufacturing and integration of both rockets and payloads. In addition, PLD Space will build new test facilities in Teruel, where the company will test its new rocket engines as well as the complete rocket stages for its set-up before flight.

PLD Space CEO Raúl Torres says the company is delighted to be partnering with new private investors and our industrial partner GMV. “Today is a historic day for our young, but highly intense history in the space sector. Having GMV on board in our team as technology partner and investor, endorses PLD Space project as the next breakthrough in the NewSpace sector, and will make us excel in this endeavour.”

For his part, Jesús B. Serrano, GMV’s CEO who will take up a post on PLD Space’s board, declared: “We are sure that this agreement, pooling the joint forces of GMV and PLD Space, will boost our technological prowess and ensure success of the whole initiative. From GMV we are addressing this project with the great technological capital of our group of companies and all the enthusiasm and talent of our teams”.

The PLD Space team wants to thank GMV for betting and trusting in us by becoming a technology partner and shareholder. Likewise, we greatly appreciate the financial effort of the other investment partners and public institutions. Their confidence has made possible to close this investment round, which is a milestone for the success of the ARION 1 and ARION 2 launchers and for the development of game-changing rocket technology in Europe.”