Backed by SpaceX’s investor, UK-based startup Magdrive grabs £1.4M to disrupt space travel

Magdrive Image credits: Magdrive

In the past decade, numerous startups have emerged in the space sector, bringing advanced technologies such as AI, quantum computing, tiny satellites and service, and more, that we could not even imagine a few years ago. 

Joining the list is the London-based Magdrive, a space-tech startup that aims to transform the space industry just as the jet engine transformed aviation. 

Raised £1.4 million seed funding

Recently, Magdrive raised a £1.4 million seed funding led by Founders Fund (SpaceX’s original VC) with participation from Entrepreneur’s First, 7percent Ventures, and Luminous Ventures. The round was also topped up by a grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s public body for Research and Innovation. 

“We are thrilled to back this innovative group out of the UK, there have been many attempts at small satellite propulsion innovation over the past decade, but they have been marginal improvements on pre-existing technology, Magdrive is the first step-change improvement offering the best of chemical and electric propulsion in a single system,” says Delian Asparouhov, principal at Founder’s Fund

How will the funding be used?

The space tech startup will utilise the funding to accelerate the development of an in-orbit demonstration of the Magdrive plasma thruster at their Oxfordshire-based Lab at the European Space Agency Business Incubator.

What makes Magdrive unique?

Led by CEO Mark Stokes, Magdrive is developing the next generation of spacecraft propulsion to revolutionise space travel. It is on the mission to propel small satellites, an industry with 5000 satellites scheduled for launch in 2023

As per the company claims, the Magdrive thruster provides high and variable impulse with a high thrust. 

The UK company’s miniature thruster burns it’s propellant 100 times hotter than a rocket and is contained by a unique magnetic field topology that confines a high-density plasma.

This will allow small satellites to improve constellation management and will reduce the barriers to entering the space industry. 

“At 7percent we seek founding teams with ‘moonshot’ ambitions. With Magdrive this is not just a metaphor: their revolutionary plasma thruster will soon be powering satellites, but in the future could take us to deep space. While the UK’s expertise in constructing satellites is world-renowned, there has been far less focus on propulsion. In fact, Great Britain is the only country to have successfully developed and then, in the 1970s abandoned, an indigenous satellite launch capability, which undoubtedly curbed the UK’s space sector. So we’re excited to be backing Magdrive, one of a new generation of British space startups, which has the vision and ambition to become a world-beating company in this burgeoning sector.” Andrew J Scott, Founding Partner, 7percent Ventures.