Christchurch, NZ – Icehouse Ventures has made one of its largest-ever investments in a New Zealand company. The $20 million backing of space-transportation company Dawn Aerospace also attracted support from GD1 and Movac.
Dawn is creating a sustainable, integrated space-transportation network. Valued at NZ$170 million, the company provides in-space propulsion technology for satellites, with systems on eight operational spacecraft. The company is also flight-testing a spaceplane technology demonstrator, the Dawn Mk-II Aurora, in New Zealand’s South Island. To date, the Mk-II has operated using jet engines – rocket-powered flight is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2023.
The $20 million will allow the company based in New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the US to expand its offering of satellite propulsion systems and spaceplane development, Dawn Aerospace co-founder and CEO, Stefan Powell said. “The funding announced today will support new endeavours, including developing the Mk-III, an orbital spaceplane, and delivering in-space propulsion products to GEO, lunar and higher-thrust customers,” he said. “We are grateful to Icehouse Ventures and our other investors for backing the future of our company and space technology.”
“Thousands of space tech companies have raised billions of dollars, yet very few have actually been to space or generated revenue,” said Robbie Paul, Icehouse Ventures CEO. “Dawn’s technical and commercial traction is a testament to the founders and their amazing team. More importantly, the traction continues to widen their competitive moat and that’s why we’ve invested >$10m in this round.”
“We’ve always placed strategic importance on getting to customer revenue – with hardware on orbit – fast,” said James Powell, Dawn co-founder and CFO. “In the space start-up world, most don’t get anything flying without hundreds of millions in investment. Prior to this round, Dawn had more money come from sales than venture capital. With $22m of deals closed in 2022 and another $150m in negotiation, it won’t be long until propulsion sales resume bringing in more cash than VC.”
As a result of the raise, a new board seat has been established. “Today, we welcome Anna Kominik to our board. Anna’s capability and ethos are hugely respected in our industry, and we’re thrilled to have her join our team,” said Stefan Powell. Kominik is the former Director of Wisk’s Asia Pacific operation and a former Director of the Vertical Flight Society International Board.
Dawn recently won Best Medium Enterprise at the New Zealand International Business Awards and the Product category at the EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards.