Europe’s Privately Funded Space Capsule Startup Nabs €40.5M in Funding

The Exploration Company has secured €40.5M in Series A to develop reusable space capsule.
Credit: The Exploration Company

The Exploration Company has closed a €40.5M Series A. The round follows a €5.3M seed round, closed in November 2021.

The Franco-German startup is developing a reusable space capsule, Nyx, that will fly science missions, resupply space stations, and, with any luck, eventually, take crews to and from orbit. The vehicle is designed to carry payloads up to 4,000 kg to LEO for up to 6 months at a time at a cost of €15,000/kg.

“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,” CEO Hélène Huby said in a statement. “As such, we can enable nations, space, and non-space industries and individuals to participate in and contribute to the building of the new space world.”

EQT Ventures and Red River West led the hefty funding round, with participation from new and existing investors. The startup says it will use the funds to commercialize the maiden full-scale prototype of Nyx, finalize and launch a second capsule demonstrator, and expand its workforce.

But first, it’s bikini time

Before testing its first full-scale demonstrator, The Exploration Company will first launch its subscale “Bikini” reentry demonstrator. The name, we assume, is a nod to the demonstrator’s stripped-down configuration.

The subscale demonstrator is expected to launch aboard the maiden Ariane 6 flight. That mission was initially scheduled for late 2022, but delays in Ariane 6’s development have pushed the first flight out to late 2023.

What does the future hold? The first full-scale Nyx space capsule is set to launch in 2026. Before that, a second capsule demonstrator, which will likely offer more coverage than a bikini but won’t be the full winter coat, will be launched in 2024.