The ‘billionaire’ space race’ has heated up with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and English business magnate Richard Branson competing against each other with recent manned trips to the frontiers of space. American entrepreneur Elon Musk is also close, with his company SpaceX collaborating with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) to launch scientific probes to the cosmos. Now, the billionaires in the competition have a new rival to tackle — Porsche SE.
Porsche SE is the dynasty that owns a controlling stake in Volkswagen AG, the owner of German automobile manufacturer Porsche. In a press release issued on Wednesday, Porsche Automobil Holding SE informed that it has invested in Isar Aerospace, a Munich-based company that develops and manufactures launch vehicles for the transport of satellites.
Although Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, and Elon Musk’s Tesla are all backed by billionaires taking on each other with manned space missions, Porsche on the other hand, with the help of Isar Aerospace, intends to make headway in the growing market for rocket technology for launching small satellites into Earth’s orbit.
As part of a $165 million funding round, Porsche SE is investing alongside venture capital company HV Capital and Swiss bank Lombard Odier to inject $75 million into Isar Aerospace, reported CNN. Porsche has acquired “a low single-digit percentage stake”, the company informed in an official release.
“Isar Aerospace plans its initial launch next year and offers a more cost-efficient and flexible launch capacity for satellites with “Spectrum”, the first launch vehicle developed by the company,” the statement read. The company expressed hope that demand for the launch of small satellites is expected to “grow significantly” in the coming years due to the latest advancements in satellite technology and growing demand for connectivity and earth observation. “As existing launch capacities are not sufficient or too expensive or inflexible, private companies like Isar Aerospace aim to satisfy this demand in a more cost-effective and flexible way compared to established space companies,” it said.