ISAR Aerospace: Will This Munich-based Company Become a Space Pioneer?

20th Jan 2021
ISAR Aerospace Rocket

ISAR Aerospace is a Munich-Based company with highly ambitious plans, spreading from Bavaria into space. In 2021, this German startup plans to send its first rocket —”Spectrum” — on a test flight into space. It is designed to carry small satellites.

ISAR announced that it had raised €75 million of funding in mid-December, more than any other European space company has raised before. Supporters include industry giants such as Airbus and the technology investor Earlybird.

ISAR Aerospace as Self-Confident Space Pioneers

Space travel has been commercialising for several years. With SpaceX, Musk is the pioneer in “new space,” as private space travel is also called. The new generation of space explorers’ message is clear: We are young, fast, and better than the old, slow space agencies such as NASA or ESA.

Today anyone with the correct funds can buy a satellite and adjust it to suit their own needs — whatever that may be: create images, deliver weather data. While large communications satellites used to cost billions of dollars, universities or research institutes can now order a tiny “cube sat” for almost €100,000. The launch into space is calculated based on weight; 30,000-60,000 euros per kilogram is the standard rate.

Faster than SpaceX

Such small satellites only need small launch vehicles. “The large SpaceX carriers are 70 metres long, so starting is only worthwhile if you take around 20 tons of material with you,” says Metzler. The Spectrum rocket from Isar Aerospace, which the team has been building in Ottobrunn since September 2020, is only 27 metres long. If everything goes well, Isar Aerospace wants to reduce the kilo price for rocket launches to around €10,000.

However, just because German companies want to benefit from growth, does Germany automatically become a “new space” pioneer?

No, says Ulrich Walter, who, as an ex-astronaut, who now teaches space technology at the Technical University of Munich. One obstacle for the young space companies, Walter complains, is that there is still no German space legislation — while countries like Great Britain, Sweden, or Luxembourg all have one put in place

And so it is the USA that sets the pace. Blue Origin, founded by Jeff Bezos, has alone received permission to launch 3,200 satellites to provide remote areas with Internet access and thus secure new customers.

Metzler sees the topic in a much more fundamental way. After all, Isar Aerospace is helping to protect the German industry. Anyone who often travels by train between Munich and Berlin is familiar with this: no cellular network, no internet. According to Isar Aerospace co-founder, anyone who wants to secure their digital sovereignty can no longer avoid private space travel.

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