Unastella, Korea’s first private manned space launch vehicle startup, has attracted a pre-series A investment of 5.5 billion won ($4.4 million). This investment was led by Strong Ventures, which has invested in Karrot Market and Class 101. Hana Ventures, InterValue Partners, Base Investment, Aston Ventures, and Hana Securities jointly participated. The cumulative investment amount is 6 billion won.
Established in February 2022, Unastella is the first startup in Korea to develop a private manned space launch vehicle. In March 2022, a month after its establishment, it attracted seed investment from Blue Point Partners, a domestic accelerator (AC). In April 2022, it was selected as a ‘fast track’ for the private investment-led technology startup support program ‘TIPS (Incubator Program for Startup)’ of the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, securing initial R&D costs.
Unastella is designing and developing its engine based on an electric motor pump cycle engine system to develop a launch vehicle capable of manned space flight up to an altitude of 100 km and provide suborbital space travel service.
In particular, this month, it successfully tested the ground combustion performance of the combustor under development, proving its technology and development speed. This is an achievement achieved less than a year after its founding. The combustor has a ground thrust of 50 kN (5 tons) and uses kerosene (Jet A-1), the same propellant combination as the Nuri, and liquid oxygen as fuel.
In December last year, Unastella signed a technology transfer contract with Korea Aerospace Research Institute for an electric pump for small rocket engines. It was granted two non-exclusive licenses related to electric motor pump engines. Through this investment, Unastella plans to develop core avionics components and launch vehicle structures, including engine upgrades currently under development.
Park Jae-hong, CEO of Unastella, said, “I am grateful to the investors who believed in Unastella’s vision and potential and invested in it, even during difficult times, and we aim to complete the ongoing attraction of additional investment. Just as we succeeded in the combustion test faster than the target schedule based on the efficient development philosophy and the team members’ passion, we will continue to achieve Unastella’s unique milestones to develop low-cost, high-efficiency launch vehicles.”
Bae Ki-hong, CEO of Strong Ventures, who led the pre-A investment, said, “Sending people into space requires a lot of time and capital, but it must be done in Korea, where space technology is recognized worldwide. We decided to invest because I thought I could play a leading role in creating the industry’s future, and I want to emphasize that this is an important investment for the future of Korea.”
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