French space startup Exotrail is reaching for the stars – and looks set to get there – after securing more than $4 million in funding for its satellite thruster technology.
The company, which specialises in electric propulsion for small satellites, will have plenty more resources to utilise after a $4.1 million financing round organised by European venture capital firm 360 Capital Partners.
The funding is a big win for the company as they work toward demonstrating their technology in space by late 2019. Based near Paris, the company’s propulsion system is intended for platforms fitted with a weight of between 10 and 20 kilograms. According to their tests and data, Exotrail believes they can provide a considerably higher thrust than that of competitive solutions while maintaining high-energy efficiency.
Exotrail co-founder and chief executive David Henri told SpaceNews that the company’s propulsion was enabled with a thrust load that is three to six times higher than that of the other satellites. “Owing to this, smallsats fitted with our propulsion will be able to make the same maneuvers in much less time. The competing solutions would need eight to 10 months to perform what our propulsion can do within just a few months,” Henri said.
“We want to be a market leader in this segment, and our value proposal for customers relies on the fact that our solution will allow them to gain revenue much faster within a shorter period of time.”
We have raised 3.5M€ to accelerate our growth, extend our team, and get ready for first deliveries https://t.co/AbTd5dIvEp
— Exotrail (@ExotrailSpace) September 6, 2018
Onward and upward is the plan for Exotrail. The company has launched its second office in Toulouse, France, to help it reach three major milestones over the next two years. The first is to demonstrate their technology with a flight, the second is to begin product deliveries and the third is to explore the possibilities around electric space propulsion software.
The French company expects that most of the market for small satellites will come from Earth observation and telecommunications. Thus, according to Henri, Exotrail has commercial relationships with multiple European small satellite groups and is in talks with US and Asian companies.
“Our first commercial target is in Europe. However, given how the market is developing, we see that our final users will be mostly based in the U.S. But at integration level, many companies are active in Europe which is good for companies such as ours,” he said.
The latest round of funding was also supported by Irdi Soridec Gestion, Bpifrance, and a variety of angel investors.