Auriga Space emerged from stealth today with a novel electromagnetic launch system and $5M in its pocket for prototyping and expanding its LA facility.
Winnie Lai founded Auriga in 2022, naming the company after the constellation depicting a chariot rider in Greek mythology. Lai previously served as a VP at SpinLaunch, a startup using a spin accelerator to fling projectiles, before she started her own kinetic space launch system, this time using electromagnetism.
Electromagnetic launch 101: The company’s launch system relies on a ground-based electromagnetic track that uses electricity to create a powerful magnetic field. The energy from the magnets accelerates a projectile down the track at screaming speeds—a similar technology to a high-speed maglev train.
Aiming the accelerator upwards, Auriga will shoot the vehicle out on what will be the ride of its life. After reaching a high altitude using just kinetic energy from the launch, the vehicle will then fire up its engines to complete the less intensive last leg to orbit.
- The electromagnetic launch system takes the place of a first-stage rocket. A second stage rocket will still be needed to reach orbit.
Boldly going: The LA-based business has a bold mission: reduce launch costs while introducing a clean energy alternative into the launch market.
- Cost: The electromagnetic ground launch system uses a fully reusable track, reducing costs by eliminating pesky valves, expensive rocket engines, fuel, and expendable systems.
- Clean launch: The majority of fuel in traditional launch is used by the first stage rocket, during the first two to three minutes of flight. Auriga’s electromagnetic ground launch system is powered by electricity, protecting the upper atmosphere from hydrocarbons.
With launch increasing at a torrid rate, NOAA has expressed concerns over the impact of burning rocket fuel in our stratosphere. Auriga sees this challenge as an opportunity.
“This is an audacious goal; we’re shooting for the stars. But the payoff is even bigger—for exploration, for science, and for our planet,” the company said in a statement.
Auriga has brought on Blake Scholl, Boom Supersonic founder, and Ashley Johnson, Planet’s COO/CFO, as advisors.
The company’s investor group includes Trucks VC, Seraphim Space, Possible Ventures, Unlock Ventures, DNX Ventures, Monte Carlo Capital, Vermillion Ventures, Heuristic Capital and Syndicate 708.