Sierra Space has raised $290 million in a Series B round to scale its Dream Chaser spaceplane and commercial space station projects, bringing its valuation to $5.3 billion.
The company has now raised $1.7 billion to date, a record-setting figure for investment for a commercial space company, Sierra said in a statement.
The equity round was co-led by three Japanese investors: one of the country’s largest banks, MUFG; trading company Kanematsu Corporation; and insurance giant Tokio Marine & Nichido. Sierra Space’s existing investors also participated. CNBC was the first to report the news.
The Japanese investors have been working with the national space agency JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) to study the market opportunities in low Earth orbit (LEO). This new investment in Sierra is a strong signal that Japanese firms intend to be prominent participants in the LEO economy in the coming decades, especially after the International Space Station is retired in 2030.
Sierra Space is behind one of a growing number of commercial space station initiatives. In October 2021, the company announced that it was teaming up with Blue Origin, Boeing and others to build a station called “Orbital Reef.” Sierra said its inflatable habitat called LIFE (Large Integrated Flexible Environment) would compose one of the core components of the new station.
Sierra recently completed a series of “burst tests” of a subscale version of the habitat, where the company increased the interior pressure of the module until it burst. The company’s now looking to conduct similar tests on a full-scale LIFE habitat before launching a “pathfinder” demonstration mission in 2026.
Sierra is also developing a reusable vehicle called Dream Chaser, with the aim of using it to deliver cargo and crew to and from its station. Dream Chaser’s first flight is scheduled to launch aboard a United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur next year.
“As we transition our revolutionary Dream Chaser spaceplane into operations for NASA cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station, we focus our capital deployment to the development and operations of the first commercial space station — the next step in our in-space infrastructure — the growth of our national security offering and scaling our space systems components business,” Sierra CEO Tom Vice said in a statement.