Anyone who thinks about private space companies and the industry at large will know that only a few giants dominate it.
Names like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic have become the industry standard for private aerospace. However, some companies are doing their best to provide auxiliary services and populate the industry. One such is Launcher.
An Up and Comer
Based in California, Launcher is a rocket company that is looking to rise quickly across the private space industry. Launcher has been making waves for a few months now, building rocket engines and endearing itself to people with its folksy, small guy image. Started in 2017 by Max Haot, Launcher began with a mission to launch and establish a presence as possible.
At the time Launcher, well, launched, the company was looking to follow the blueprint of Elon Musk and SpaceX. Quick progress was the objective, and Haot especially had a plan. He was looking to keep Launcher small and as tight-knit as possible, primarily because he knew that there would be a lot of expenses down the line. As of last November, Launcher had just 8 employees - although another 10 people based in Ukraine helped in designing products.
Launcher’s first step was to build a rocket engine that could deliver a thrust unit of 22,000 pounds. The “Engine-2,” as Launcher called it, would be an incredibly powerful engine that would give almost 400 percent the thrust that the Electron booster of Rutherford Labs provides. Launcher planned to build this rocket in four years, with a maximum capital of $10 million.
An Injection of New Funds
Haot said in November that Launcher is on track to deliver on the E-2. The company’s hopes will be even better, now that it has raised $11 million in additional funds.
According to an announcement early this month, Launcher explained that it had looked to get $7 million in funds. However, the $11.7 million it got via its Series A funding round will go a long way in helping it to hit the ground running.
Haot said in an interview that Launcher is doing very well as it looks to continue engine development. However, he conceded that there is a need to shed the “small guy” image. He pointed out that Launcher will need to expand to reach its goals, and a significant part of its raised funds will be used to hire more people.
Of course, the fact that Launcher raised more than it expected will definitely help. Launcher already showed that it is very cash-effective. Per reports, the company had spent about $1.5 million yearly while going lean. Now, it will spend more.
Haot pointed out that Launcher will need to increase its expenditure to about $10 million annually in order to reach its goals. With 30 American employees now, it is looking to scale up to 70 by the year’s end. The CEO added that they will need to hit about 150 employees by the time they are ready to have an orbital flight. For now, the hope is that they can do so with a budget of $50 million.
They are working on another funding round, which is expected to be completed by the early part of 2022.
Launcher Taps the Big Boys
Another notch on Launcher’s belt is the fact that the company is already working on collaborating with several industry leaders.
Following its capital raise, it announced that its new satellite platform, known as Orbiter, is set to carry stacks of its CubeSats - a type of research-based satellite - into space. Orbiter will send up to 330 pounds of mass into space, but it will start with rideshare missions on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The debut mission is set for takeoff in October 2022.
In its press release, Launcher said: “With Orbiter, small satellite constellation developers can take advantage of the rapid cadence and unprecedented price point of the SpaceX rideshare program to build their constellation at optimum cost and timing.”
Orbiter is set to be the third stage of Launcher Light - a small rocket that Launcher is working on getting into low Earth orbit by 2024. The rocket itself will compete in a relatively crowded market for small rockets that include Electron from Rocket Lab and the LauncherOne from Virgin Galactic.
Launcher will have to do a lot of work to get to the scale of its competitors. However, the company has proven to be prudent and focused on its objectives. Success with its ambitions following this fundraising round will undoubtedly help it to move forward.