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The Exploration Company jet sets its space ambitions with record €40 million raise

French-German startup The Exploration Company has hit a record milestone in the space tech sector, securing €40 million. The startup is on a mission to make space exploration affordable, sustainable, and open – and it’s building the first European space capsule to be privately funded. 

The space race is on. Exploring space and the possibility of humans flying there is very much a reality in reach, and it has massive implications for life on earth – as well as being a billionaire’s dream destination of choice. Space tech is, as a result, a booming market, more so in the US, and Europe is starting to catch up. 

It’s reported that the commercial space market will reach $40 billion by 2035, and that rises to $70 billion if you include human space flights. However, there’s currently no European solution to carry goods and humans to the space stations around the Earth and the Moon. The Exploration Company provides Europe with the capacity to participate in the exploration of new space worlds while creating a sustainable, affordable and alternative global player.

Founded by Hélène Huby in 2019, the company has just secured a record investment for European space tech. 

Funding details

  • €40 million was raised in a Series A round.
  • The round was co-led by  EQT Ventures and Red River West. New and existing investors including, Promus Ventures, Cherry Ventures, Vsquared, Omnes Capital, July Fund, Partech, Possible Ventures, Habert Dassault Finance, Schlumberger and Sista Fund also participated.
  • Adds to a €5.3 million raise in 2021.

Hélène Huby, Co-Founder and CEO: “Within this decade, we will see humanity expand into space and building space stations, sometimes in partnership with the private sector, around the Earth and the Moon, paving the way for humans’ sustainable settlement on the Moon and beyond. Currently, these transformational developments are led by a few players. We want to democratize space exploration by providing more sustainable and affordable capacities. Nyx, our spacecraft, is the first space capsule to be privately funded, the first to use green propellants and the first to open source its operating system. As such, we can enable nations, space & non-space industries and individuals to participate in and contribute to the building of the new space world.” 

Based between Munich and Bordeaux, The Exploration Company, which is led by Hélène Huby, is made up of a team of experienced aerospace engineers. Leveraging this, the company has been able to build its first re-entry demonstrator in 9 months. 

The space tech innovators want to democratize space exploration, so it’s not just in the hands of the world’s billionaires, and so that it is more sustainable. Space tech and space exploration have great implications for life on earth, able to provide us with data and information that can positively influence decisions and processes – The Exploration Company want to bridge that gap between space and earth. 

Hélène Huby: With no European solution to carry goods and humans to the space stations around the Earth and the Moon, we are providing Europe with the capacity to participate in the exploration of the new space worlds, while creating a sustainable, affordable and alternative global player.”

The Exploration Company is now developing its second demonstrator that will fly into space and re-enter the atmosphere in a controlled manner, safely bringing back to Earth cargo payloads from clients – including several space agencies in Europe.

The final vehicle, known as Nyx, will carry goods, and ultimately humans, into space to service space stations and pursue long-range exploration missions. The vehicle can be reused multiple times and can be refuelled in orbit, expanding its potential mission length. It is also launcher agnostic meaning it can be launched by several rockets. 

Alongside Nyx, The Exploration Company is developing open interface software and hardware available in a SpaceStore, enabling customers to build on these open interfaces, and develop the platform that suits their needs.  

Red River West Founding Partner, Alfred, Vericel said: “I have known Hélène for many years and have been impressed by her capacity to anticipate strategic transformation, execute large space programs, and unleash the talents of her teams by her mission-driven, visionary, and empathetic energy. The mission of Red River West is to invest in European entrepreneurs who build global and impactful companies which we scale together in the US. We are proud to contribute to The Exploration Company’s development.”  

With the fresh capital, The Exploration Company aims to commercialize its first full-scale space capsule (launch planned for 2026), finalize and test launch its second capsule demonstrator (launch planned for 2024), as well as expand the team. With it, Europe’s space ambitions are coming closer to reach and the global space race just got more competitive. 

EQT Ventures Partner, Ted Persson, said: “It has been nearly half a century since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Since then, the industry has focused on creating innovative launch devices to get satellites, and in some cases people, into space. Hélène and the team have brought together a unique mix of world-class industry veterans and young space and software engineers to capitalize on a huge market opportunity and will ultimately enable Europe – and others – to participate in the discovery of the new space worlds, in a sustainable and cooperative manner.” 

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Patricia Allen
Patricia Allen
is the Head of Content at EU-Startups. With a background in politics, Patricia has a real passion for how shared ideas across communities and cultures can bring new initiatives and innovations for the future. She spends her time bringing you the latest news and updates of startups across Europe, and curating our social media.

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