If this year has taught us anything, it’s that rich people really love space. So it’s hardly surprising to learn that luxury car manufacturer Porsche is entering the private space race alongside the likes of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Sir Richard Branson.
Porsche SE – the family holding company behind Volkswagen Group – is investing in Munich-based rocket startup Isar Aerospace in the hope of securing access to up and coming space technology.
“We are convinced that cost-effective and flexible access to space will be a key enabler for innovations in traditional industries as well as for new and disruptive technologies and business models,” Porsche SE executive responsible for investment management Lutz Meschke said in a statement.
“With Isar Aerospace, we are investing in a company that is well positioned to establish itself as a leading European manufacturer of launch vehicles.”
Alongside HV Capital and Lombard Odier, Porsche is investing a whopping $101 million towards the company, adding to the total second-stage funding to nearly $225 million. With Porsche’s backing, Isar Aerospace is now valued at an estimated $745 million.
“The funding will allow Isar Aerospace to further invest in its launch, testing, and manufacturing infrastructure for its largely automated rocket production and commercial operations,” Isar Aerospace said in a statement on Wednesday.
Isar Aerospace occupies the same part of the space industry as the likes of Blue Origin (Bezos) and SpaceX (Musk) – which have a heavy focus on cost-effective low-earth orbit satellite launch services.
“A competitive and diverse space ecosystem will be crucial for humanity in the decades to come,” Isar CEO Daniel Metzler said in a statement. “We are convinced that European cooperation, a level-playing field for all players, and a demand-driven approach will provide customers with access to different and internationally competitive launch capabilities for a broad spectrum of payloads. The U.S. has shown that cornerstone contracts based on demand — instead of political parameters — are preparing the ground for innovation and growth in the space sector.”
But in addition to hopefully bringing us closer to civilian space tourism (those who can afford it, anyway), the private space sector also hopes to improve life on Earth through farming technology and climate action.
“Space will become a key technological platform for many industries worldwide — from the automotive to the telecoms sector — bringing advances and new capabilities of [Internet of Things], data encryption and storage, as well as smart farming applications and surveillance for tackling climate change,” Isar Aerospace said.