GMV has decided to take part in the ownership of the young space company, PLD Space, as shareholder.
GMV will also develop key technology and will work together with PLD Space in the development of the ARION 1 and ARION 2 launchers, an activity that will enable both companies to grow and position themselves strategically in the small space-launchers market. The corporate endorsement of GMV enables PLD Space to raise a total investment of 6.7 million euros, between private investment through two Spanish investment vehicles and institutional funding coming from the contribution of Spanish government (CDTI and ENISA), public administrations (SUMA Teruel, IVF) and the European Commission (SME Phase1).
Under this investment agreement, GMV as a reference company in the worldwide aerospace sector, will bring to PLD Space their more than 30 years of excellence and experience to develop all the avionics subsystem of ARION 1 and ARION 2, including Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC), Telemetry and Flight Software for both rocket launchers. In addition, GMV team will work closely with the PLD Space team in the integration, qualification and launch support operations for ARION1 and ARION 2 as well as during both test and commercial flights. These operations are targeted to start in late 2018, with the maiden flight of ARION 1 from the southwest Spanish launch base called “El Arenosillo”, in Huelva.
ARION1 will have two main purposes: at a commercial level, this rocket will serve as a frequent and cost-effective launch vehicle for scientific research and technology development for worldwide costumers; at the technology level, ARION 1 will be used as test platform and as the predecessor of ARION 2, a more ambitious vehicle that will launch smallsats into orbit, starting in mid-2020.
GMV has recently participated in other similar space developments, including several European Space Agency (ESA) vehicles. GMV has also participated in avionics technology research projects applied to launchers, such as the SPARTAN technology demonstrator (Space Exploration Research for Throttleable Advanced Engine) or the avionics test bench for the next generation of transport vehicles NGT-ATB (New Generation Launcher and Space Transportation Advanced Avionics Testbed), for the European Commission and European Space Agency, respectively.
This important milestone in the history of PLD Space follows the recent contract awarded by the European Space Agency (ESA) to PLD Space for the development of rocket technologies to enable launchers re-usability under the FLPP (Future Launchers Preparatory Program). The recently approved ESA project, called Liquid Propulsion Stage Recovery (LPSR), will enable PLD Space to return from space the entire ARION 1 and the first stage of ARION 2, reducing the costs of access to space for small satellites. The technology developments and conclusions drawn from this project are expected to be applicable to other future launchers developed by PLD Space, as well as by ESA.
With this investment, PLD Space will begin the complete development of ARION 1 and all the facilities required for its manufacture, integration, testing and launch. Currently, PLD Space's main offices are in the UMH Science Park, while the propulsion test bench is located at Teruel Industrial Airport. The company will move during 2017 to their new headquarters where PLD Space will carry out the manufacturing and integration of both rockets and payloads. In addition, PLD Space will build new test facilities in Teruel, where the company will test their new rocket engines as well as the complete rocket stages for the pre-flight set-up.