China’s Galactic Energy raises $200 million for reusable launch vehicle development

by

HELSINKI — Chinese commercial rocket maker Galactic Energy raised $200 million in two funding rounds during the second half of 2021, the company announced Monday.

Galactic Energy announced that the funding from B and B+ rounds, completed between July and December, would go towards development of the Pallas-1 medium-lift reusable launch vehicle and related infrastructure.

The firm is targeting early 2023 for the first launch of the kerosene-liquid oxygen Pallas-1. The two-stage Pallas-1 is designed to carry 5,000 kilograms to low Earth orbit or 3,000 kilograms to a 700-kilometer Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). Earlier statements on capabilities stated 4,000 and 2,000 kilograms to LEO and SSO respectively.

The funding rounds were led by Huaqiang Capital, Oriental Fortune Capital, AVIC Aviation Finance, China Veterans Investment, Anhui Jiangnan Construction Investment Group, Yunding Capital, Zhongtian Fortune Fund and more.

The investors are a mix of state-backed investment vehicles and private financing. Combined, the two rounds surpass the largest funding rounds for Chinese commercial launch vehicle makers.

Beijing-based Landspace and iSpace, both developing methane-liquid oxygen rockets with first stage reusability, and Expace, a solid rocket maker and spinoff from state-owned CASIC, all closed rounds in the region of $175 million in the past five years.

A view inside the payload fairing of the second Ceres-1.
A view inside the payload fairing of the second Ceres-1. Credit: Galactic Energy

In December Galactic Energy became the first Chinese private launch firm to successfully reach orbit twice with its Ceres-1 solid rocket, sending five satellites into SSO.

The firm previously raised $29.9 million in November 2020 following the successful first launch of the Ceres-1. 

Galactic Energy also made progress on the 50-ton-thrust Cangqiong kerolox engine for Pallas-1 during 2021. Beijing-based InterSpace Explore signed a deal with the firm in August for launch of the Zengzhang-1 demonstration returnable satellite on a Ceres-1 solid rocket in 2022.

Galactic Energy says that it is planning as many as 5-6 launches in 2022, starting in the second half of the year. The firm could also potentially conduct a sea launch of the Ceres-1, facilitated by a new Eastern spaceport for sea launches established at Haiyang, Shandong province.

Incomplete information on funding in China’s emerging commercial space sector suggested that overall Investment was lagging just over halfway through 2021, concentrating in fewer players. At the same time launch-related companies continued to emerge and attract funds.