This start-up wants to build Europe’s first private space capsule


The future of space exploration will require an increase in the number of stations in orbit around the Earth. While private constructions could see the light of day in a few years, they will need cargo spacecraft, capable of playing the role of a space taxi between the surface and the station.

It is with this in mind that the very young company The Exploration Company was founded. Based in both Bordeaux and Munich (Germany), it is the result of the work of former Airbus employees. 18 months after its creation, it has just completed a first fundraising of 40 million euros, the largest series A in history for a European space company.

Lightning-fast development

This money should allow the construction of the cargo ship Nyx. The latter would be capable of sending 4 tonnes of payload into low orbit. The idea is thus to provide the private space stations of tomorrow with a simple means of refueling or even of sending “tourists” into space.

In recent months, a first demonstrator of the Nyx capsule has been developed internally. With this new fundraiser, the company hopes to carry out a first demonstration flight in orbit at the end of the year during the maiden flight of Ariane 6. The rest of the schedule is very tight. From 2026, a commercial test flight should take place and in 2028 the company plans to send its capsule to the Moon to supply the international space station “Gateway”, a major NASA project for the years to come.

Full of ambition, The Exploration Company is counting on the massive development of space tourism in the coming years. If the latter is currently limited to suborbital flights, with Blue Origin capsules in particular, the construction of stations in orbit around the Earth should see the light of day in the coming decade.

Already in the big leagues

It is the exponential development of this market which is the main financial resource for The Exploration Company. Despite its youth, the project has already been praised for its seriousness on many occasions. A few weeks ago the company joined the ranks of companies sponsored by ESA, the European space agency, in its incubator.

Tom Thumb in a giant world, The Exploration Company will have to compete in the coming years with other habitable capsules, ready to taxi between Earth and space stations. The best known today is SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, but other projects are under development at Boeing (Starliner) or at Airbus (Orion).

A few weeks ago, the large company ArianeGroup presented its spacecraft project at the IAC, an international astronomy congress. Named susie the capsule still has to find the necessary funding for its development.

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