The Franco-German startup TEC raises 40 million euros to develop its space capsules!

Eric Bottlaender

Space specialist

February 02, 2023 at 4:00 p.m.


The exploration Company Nyx capsule © The Exploration Company

The Nyx concept flies for the moment on the views of artists only. Credits The Exploration Company

Does the Exploration Company (TEC) mean anything to you? However, the young shoot has carried out a historic fundraising for a private European player… With its sights set on its capsule Nyx which will first transport material to and from orbit, it has clear ambitions towards astronautics.

A rapid evolution, to follow closely!

Orbital Baggage Handler

The space domain is a real logistical challenge. To get into orbit, of course, but also to operate there and back. This last point is still very rare today, since a large number of objects sent into space do not return, or are disintegrated in the atmosphere. And yet astronautics is expanding its activities, players want to create “orbital factories”… Transport to and from low orbit is a challenge, and it is the one that The Exploration Company (TEC) has decided to address. . A startup created in Munich, but which immediately took a Franco-German turn with premises in Bordeaux. About fifty employees today, including several of the founders from Airbus DS who worked on the most emblematic European projects, work on the transport project of TEC, oriented towards space capsules. On January 31, the entirely private start-up announced that it had raised 40.7 million euros, a record for a startup of its kind.

A TEC bridge

It must be said that these means follow the ambition of The Exploration Company: designing and operating recoverable space capsules, even for freight only, is currently neither simple nor cheap. Nevertheless, the strategy of the start-up is based on a gradual increase in capacity. The first demonstrator should take off in 2023 (or early 2024) with Ariane 6, under the name of “Bikini Demo”, and this very simple, unpiloted capsule will above all have to show its performance for atmospheric crossing. But TEC is of course thinking bigger, with the subsequent marketing of a model weighing more than 2 tons and greatly improved capacities… The primary objective is to be able to serve the various public space stations and companies that are taking shape to deliver freight there and bring it back to Earth with a reusable capsule. Aware of the challenge, the startup knows that it will need a total of at least 200 to 300 million euros in capital.

The Exploration Company Nyx capsule 2 © The Exploration Company

A potential version of Nyx in low orbit. Ideal for future private stations? Credits The Exploration Company

It’s private here

However, this fundraising is very encouraging for Hélène Huby, co-founder and director of the company. Indeed, if the objective is to set up a European solution, TEC is a private player and proud of it: there is no question of relying on public funding and limiting its innovations to subsidies. Based on an American model, The Exploration Company intends to offer its solution to agencies and governments as a client. A bet that is currently arousing enthusiasm. Especially since TEC wants to take the opportunity to position itself from the beginning of the next decade on a segment that is much talked about and arouses envy: manned flights.

Source : New Factory

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