Spanish startup PLD Space will receive €40.5 million from Spain’s PERTE funds, a public innovation-support program that draws mostly from European funds.
These funds will allow PLD Space to continue with the development of the Miura re-usable rocket program. This project is considered strategic for Spain, since it will be the first space rocket developed entirely in the country.
On October 7, 2023 PLD Space tested its Miura-1 re-usable rocket, sending it into orbit from a launch site in southwestern Spain. Even if the rocket could not be recovered after its planned descent into the Atlantic Ocean, the launch was considered a success, since most of the systems worked as expected.
The space firm is now working in the development of its next rocket, the Miura-5, a 30-meter long rocket capable to place in orbit satellites of up to 500 kg. The Miura 5 is expected to become available commercially by 2026, although the funding program conditions require that a test unit be ready no later than 2025.
Once the Miura 5 enters service, PLD Aerospace expects to perform at least 30 annual launches from the European space center in Kourou, French Guiana.
In the meantime, the startup is also expanding in Spain, with the doubling of its workforce to 300, the opening of a new headquarters in the city of Elx, in southeastern Spain, and the set up of a rocket engine test program at Teruel airport, in Aragón.
This capital injection is not a grant, though, it is conditional on PLD Space returning the funds to the government out of the revenue it collects during its first decade of commercial operations.
In the quest to get public support, PLD Aerospace has beaten Barcelona-based Pangea Aerospace, another startup looking also to develop a space launch vehicle.