Spanish IENAI Space raises €3.9M for small satellites

Based on electrospray technology, IENAI's thrusters can be tailored to the requirements and constraints of a mission and platform.
Spanish IENAI Space raises €3.9M for small satellites

Space mobility company IENAI Space has raised €3.9 million during its latest funding round. Together with previous investments, this latest round brings the total funding of IENAI to €7 million.

The company expects to start commercial delivery of its thruster by early 2025.

The company has secured a number of Spanish investors, which include Inveready, WA4STEAM, DPM, GED Conexo Ventures, and CDTI, a government backed investor that matches private investment. GED Conexo led the round.

The raise comes in the wake of a product milestone; IENAI's electric propulsion system “ATHENA” (adaptable thruster based on electrospray powered by nanotechnology), a 0.5U thruster built for satellites between 3kg and 50kg, successfully fired for almost 400 hours. This constitutes the longest firing (independently verified by ESA) of an ionic-liquid electrospray thruster in Europe. The firing test was part of a successful preliminary design review (PDR) with ESA.

Second, the beta test of their space mobility and mission analysis & design software tool “360”, for which they had around 30 companies join. The company is now on-boarding startups from various incubation and acceleration programs across Europe as part of their “IRIS program”, in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The company will use the investment to accelerate commercialisation of its propulsion system, expand its client base for their software tools, and open new facilities to accommodate its growing team.

IENAI also plans to hire additional staff aiming to bring its 22 employees to 30 people this year, filling roles across all departments. To further advance its science and technology development, two new PhDs will also join a current total of seven PhD candidates, supervised by six PhD full-time staff.

IENA’s next step on the road to commercial production is an in-orbit demonstration of their ATHENA propulsion system aboard the Cassini in-orbit demonstration (IOD) and in-orbit verification (IOV) mission, developed under the European Space Agency, with ISISPACE. Cassini is part of a Horizon Europe-funded activity to strengthen the competitiveness of the EU space industry through several novel technology experiments from various providers across Europe for demonstration in low earth orbit (LEO).

Dr. Daniel Pérez Grande, CEO and co-founder of IENAI Space, commented: “The funding result is a fantastic achievement and a testament to the amazing efforts made by our team every single day. It allows us to consolidate the next steps towards commercialization of our core products, which in turn enables us to substantially grow the business. We really can’t wait for our clients to get their hands on ATHENA, our electric propulsion system. It will offer them world-class efficiency, compactness, and customisation options to cater for a wide range of space missions.

“We’re also very excited for the future of IENAI. In 2024 and 2025 we are expecting to kick-start a number of key collaborations with established players in the market, make progress on our current ESA projects. We’ll also keep maturing and validating our propulsion technologies, and we’ll be starting the development of more novel products for the space mobility market.”

For this, the company plans to expand its current manufacturing and testing facilities across Europe, with clean-room facilities already located in Madrid and Barcelona (Spain) and Uppsala (Sweden), as a result of agreements with CNM-CSIC (Instituto de Microelectrónica de Barcelona) and Uppsala University.

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