Chinese commercial launch startup iSpace raises $172 million

The private launch industry isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, and a new $172 million Series B round of funding for China commercial launch startup iSpace indicates it could be heating up internationally. The new funding was led by Beijing Financial Street Capital Operation Center, CICC Alpha and Taizhonghe Capital, and includes participation from existing shareholders.

The funding will primarily go toward development of iSpace’s planned “Hyperbola” space launch vehicle. The first of these sent satellites into space last July, making iSpace the first private Chinese launch company to mark that achievement. A larger rocket, called Hyperbola-2, is currently in development, and iSpace intends for the first-stage booster of that vehicle to be fully reusable, with vertical landing capabilities similar to those of SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

iSpace is developing reusable rocket engine technology to match, which is another use of the new injection of funding — as well as technical talent hiring to support all of the above. The goal is to perform a first test flight just to the Kalman line that defines the edge of space sometime early next year, using the first-stage booster of the Hyperbola-2 and including a powered landing. After that, it hopes to fly its first fully orbital mission before the end of next year.

Founded in 2016, iSpace previously raised $104.5 million, bringing its total funding to date to $276.5 million.