The Exploration Company wins cargo contract from the ESA

The contracted was after TEC won a demo competition between cargo delivery providers.
The Exploration Company wins cargo contract from the ESA

Leading commercial space company The Exploration Company has been contracted by the European Space Agency to develop a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Cargo Return Service.

The LEO Cargo Return Service is a commercial endeavour that will transport cargo to, and from, the International Space Station by 2028, and to other Commercial LEO Destinations after the closure of the ISS in 2030. The deal was made following demonstrations of a complete cargo delivery service by several different providers, and TEC was ranked first and awarded the contract.

It will enable the ESA and the European space industry to develop competitive services for the post-ISS era, boosting European independence in low Earth orbit operations and reducing reliance on non-European entities. 

In February 2024, the Company announced a positive update on further testing of its Huracan engine – which will power its reusable lunar space capsule - Nyx Moon - and implemented three significant modifications and design enhancements. In March, the Exploration Company announced the successful completion of its Green Thruster testing, in Poland.

In September 2023, the Company signed a cargo services pre-booking agreement with Axiom Space, the world’s first commercial space station. It was the first time a European space capsule had been chosen by a commercial space company to develop cargo transportation services from Earth to Space and back to Earth. In February 2023, The Exploration Company completed a $40.5 million Series A fund raise, which was a record Series A round for the European Space Tech sector.

Co-founder and CEO Hélène Huby commented: “We are delighted to win the competition and sign this contract with ESA. This historic initiative demonstrates ESA’s agility and willingness to act as an anchor client, hence combining public and private funding, like NASA did about 15 years ago. We shall continue to act bold, to act fast, and to act together. This is how we built Airbus and the Euro global success stories – and this is how we will build the next European space global success stories.”

Daniel Neuenschwander, Director of Human and Robotic Exploration of ESA, added: “The LEO Cargo Return Service project exemplifies ESA’s commitment to ensuring Europe’s prominent role in space exploration. It prepares us for the post-ISS era, strengthening European industry’s competitiveness in low Earth orbit operations, as well as being a test case for the ESA transformation and working differently.” 

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