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iSpace, the first private Chinese firm that launched rockets into orbit, raises additional funding

The company plans to further develop its Hyperbola rocket, as well as the reusable liquid-oxygen-methane engines.

Photo: iSpace's WeChat

Beijing-based rocket developer iSpace has closed its Series B round, bagging RMB 1.2 billion (USD 174 million) from investors led by Beijing Financial Street Capital Operation Center, its investor Matrix Partners China posted on its official WeChat account on Tuesday.

Matrix, which led the firm’s Series A round, also participated this time, along with more than 16 other investors, including Sequoia Capital China, Citic Securities, and China Merchants Securities.

The new funds will be mainly used to develop the Hyperbola series rockets, and JD series reusable liquid-oxygen-methane rocket engines. Its Hyperbola-1, a four-stage rocket propelled by solids, can now carry a payload of 300 kilograms as far as 500 kilometers into the orbit, the company claims on its website, making it available for satellite launches and other carrying services.

iSpace is also developing a two-stage liquid-propelled Hyperbola-2 rocket, part of which is designed to be reusable in order to reduce costs.

“Many of my colleagues are aerospace fans,” said Zuo Lingye, a Matrix partner. “After more than two years of cooperation with iSpace, our wishes have come true, including watching the ignition and rocket launch with our own eyes.”

Zuo added that several of Matrix’ portfolio companies have formed business partnerships with iSpace, but did not further elaborate on this.  

The startup, which was founded in 2016, launched its prototype Hyperbola-1 from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in July 2019, marking the first successful rocket launch into the orbit by a private Chinese company, KrASIA reported at the time.