GMV invests in PLD Space

The technology multinational GMV has decided to back the project of PLD Space and take a stake in this young space company. GMV will also develop key technology and work jointly with PLD Space in the development of the launchers ARION 1 and ARION 2, boosting the growth of both firms and winning them pole position in the market of small space launchers.

GMV’s corporate backing of PLD Space has freed up a total investment of 6.7 million euros, counting both private investment though an investment fund and a “family office”, both hosted in Valencia Region, and public funding with contributions from CDTI, ENISA, SUMA Teruel, IVF and the European Commission’s SME Instrument.

Under this agreement, GMV, a benchmark firm in the world’s space sector, will be inputting its 30+-year experience and expertise in the sector to develop the complete avionics of ARION 1 and ARION 2, including guidance, navigation and control (GNC), telemetry and onboard software of both launchers. GMV’s team will also be participating jointly with PLD Space in ARION 1 and ARION 2’s integration, qualification and launching-support operations, all during the phase of trial flights and commercial flights. These operations are scheduled to start in late 2018 with the maiden flight of the suborbital launcher ARION 1 from the “El Arenosillo” launch base in Huelva.

ARION 1 will have two purposes that are crucial for the success of this business initiative. At a commercial level, this rocket will serve as an economical and reusable space access vehicle, for technological development and scientific experimentation in space conditions. At a technological level ARION 1 will be the technological demonstrator and forerunner of a much bigger and more ambitious vehicle, ARION 2, whose mission will be to place satellites of up to 150 kg in space orbit.

GMV has recently taken part in other similar space developments, including several vehicles of the European Space Agency (ESA), such as the Advanced Generation European Vehicle, VEGA, and the IXV reentry vehicle. GMV has also taken part in launcher-avionics research projects, such as the European Commission’s technology demonstrator SPARTAN (Space Exploration Research for Throttleable Advanced Engine) and the European Space Agency’s New Generation Launcher and Space Transportation Advanced Avionics Testbed (NGT-ATB).

This important milestone in the history of PLD Space comes along after the recent award by the European Space Agency (ESA) to PLD Space of the contract for the development of launcher reuse technology, within ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Program (FLPP). The project recently approved by ESA, called LPSR (Liquid Propulsion Stage Recovery), will allow PLD Space to retrieve from space the first stage of ARION 2, thus cutting space-access costs for small satellites. Furthermore, the project has been designed and conceived to ensure that any technological developments will be applicable to other future launchers, both of PLD Space and ESA itself.

It is reckoned that the small satellite market, concentrating mainly on telecommunications and earth observation, will be worth over 7 billion dollars by 2020 and looks set to be the new technological revolution in the space sector.

With this investment PLD Space will begin the complete development of ARION 1 as well as the necessary facilities for its manufacture, integration, testing and launch. PLD Space’s head offices are currently located in the Science Park (Parque Científico) of the Universidad Miguel Hernández (UMH), while the propulsion testbeds are in Teruel airport. During 2017 the firm will move into its new rocket- and satellite-manufacture and -integration workshop in Elche. PLD Space will also build new testbeds in Teruel to trial its new rocket engines as well as complete rockets for fine tuning before blasting off into space.

In the words of Raúl Torres, CEO and co-founder of PLD Space: “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”.

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