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Celestia Aerospace Closes 100 Million Euro Seed Round from Invema Ltd.

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
March 17, 2022
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Sagittarius Launch System (Credit: Celestia Aerospace)

Pioneering solution for the development, launch, and operation of nanosatellites

BARCELONA, 15 March 2022 (Celestia Aerospace PR) — Invema Group LTD, with headquarters in London and international offices in Arizona (USA), Miami (USA), Toronto (Canada), Bogotá (Colombia), Casablanca (Morocco), Tunis (Tunisia), Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) and Dubai (United Arab Emirates), invests 100 million euros [USD $111 million] in the orbital solutions company Celestia Aerospace located in Barcelona.

With this investment round, Celestia Aerospace launches a nanosatellite production center (low-mass satellites – from 1 to 10 kg – and small dimensions – a cube measuring 10 centimeters per side), for the creation of Earth Observation and Secure Communications constellations, among other applications. The production plant applies lean-manufacturing concepts typical of the automotive industry and will have a final production capacity of up to 100 units per year. The production center is complemented by the launcher development center and the operations center for Sagittarius, a pioneering launch system dedicated to delivering nanosatellites to orbit: both those developed by the company itself and also by third parties. The facilities will be located in Spain.

Celestia Aerospace is thus committed to a 360º turnkey service, which covers all phases of the life cycle of nanosatellites, from their design and manufacture, to their launch and operation, thus offering a unique comprehensive service in the aerospace industry.

Sagittarius Airborne Launch System

The SALS (Sagittarius Airborne Launch System) is unique to date and is at the service of both the nanosatellites developed by the company itself and those developed by third parties that need a fast and flexible launch solution.

Sagittarius is an airborne platform with the capacity to reach orbits of up to 600 km in altitude, consisting of two components: The Archer, a MiG-29UB type supersonic jet; and The Space Arrow, a solid fuel rocket capable of carrying up to 16 kg of payload. In a single flight, the Archer is capable of launching two Space Arrows, thus achieving a total orbit transport capacity of 32 kg in a single operation.

The advantages of this new launch system are diverse: the just-in-time service, with a maximum waiting time between launches of one week, unlike traditional systems in which a nanosatellite waits an average of one to two years to be released; a total priority in the mission, unlike current systems in which the nanosatellite travels as secondary cargo, it is subject to the schedule and mission priorities of the main satellite with which it is launched; and flexibility in the calendar, since the launch can be delayed or advanced at the request of the client, thus being able to accommodate variations in the nanosatellite development plan.

A Firm Commitment to Young Talent

Celestia Aerospace will hire a team of 80 scientists and engineers, technicians and pilots, and will expand its activity in a scalable manner, with a five-year expansion plan in which the incorporation of recent graduates and young people from vocational training is prioritized. They will be working alongside professionals with extensive experience in the sector in order to form multicultural, multi-age and multidisciplinary teams.

The company will establish an associated foundation, the Celestia Aerospace Foundation, whose goal is to promote education and science in society and among young people in particular. As part of its activities, the Foundation will grant scholarships and prizes aimed at promoting the approach of young people to science and promoting their training.

Celestia Aerospace’s vision is global: 360 degrees covering not only matters related to industrial and scientific-technological development, but also the return to society through involvement with the training and stimulation of young people, so that they dream big and encourage the vision that they were born to have no limits.

A Solid Team

The company is led by Gloria García-Cuadrado (President & CEO), Daniel Ventura González (CTO & COO), and Francesc Ventura (CFO), and relies on the talent and experience of experts from the aerospace industry who have helped shape the sector over the past 40 years: Robert Lainé, who has held, among many other positions, Director of the Ariane Launcher Program of the European Space Agency (ESA), and Director of Operations (CTO) of the European EADS Space Consortium (currently Airbus Defence and Space); Adriano Camps, Professor and Director of the Nanosatellite Laboratory at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC); and Ángel Mateo, Professor of Air and Space Vehicles at the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM).

Celestia Aerospace will begin its test flight campaign during the last quarter of 2022.

9 responses to “Celestia Aerospace Closes 100 Million Euro Seed Round from Invema Ltd.”

  1. schmoe says:

    Fascinating. I wonder how does that MiG-29UB’s flight profile for a satellite launch compare to the F-15 Celestial Eagle’s flight profile when it shot down the satellite in low earth orbit with the ASAT missile.

    The F-15 was stripped down to minimize weight and it was carrying 2 drop tanks under the wings and the 1,180kg ASAT missile on the centerline hardpoint. I would have figured a MiG-29UB would only be able to carry 1 satellite launcher rocket but these guys are going for 2.

    • Zed_WEASEL says:

      AIUI F-15 use for the ASAT test was an early A model with the older F100 turbofan engines. A more recent F-15 with uprated turbofans should be able to fly the ASAT mission profile without too much customization.

      The MiG-29UB is a conversion trainer aircraft. So by removing the equipment associated rear cockpit position for the instructor pilot and the target acquisition/tracking systems should free up enough weight for the aircraft to launch the 2 medium air-to-air missile equivalents to LEO following a zoom climb.

      The viability of this air launch concept depends on how much each customer have to pay to get their cubesat to LEO. By comparison you can book a ride with the Hawthorne folks for about $5500 per kg.

      • redneck says:

        On paper, if the launch aircraft can release at Mack 2 with a pitch up
        of 30-45 degrees, at reasonably high altitude, the launch vehicle can reach orbit with a mass ratio of 9 or so. Assumes an ISP of a little over 300 and modest orbital altitude. A lot of variables but seems doable if there is a market at the price point.

      • duheagle says:

        The rear seat is still intact. The company website says that one can arrange to ride on the launch that deploys one’s payload.

    • duheagle says:

      I’m interested in why the press release didn’t mention anything about why there are two rockets of different sizes in the illo. A brief peek at the company website reveals that the smaller one is two-stage, sub-orbital-only and provides 10 min. of micro-gravity to payloads. The larger one is three-stage and orbital with the 16 kg. LEO payload. According to the press release, the plane can carry a pair of these though that is not mentioned on the company website. I don’t know how many hard points the MiG-29UB has, but, from a mass standpoint, it seems as though it ought to be able to carry more than a pair of the sub-orbital rockets on a single sortie. The company website doesn’t say.

  2. redneck says:

    I have no idea. If somebody does it would be interesting to know.

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