India-based in-space propulsion startup Bellatrix Aerospace Pvt. Ltd. is raising a Series A round led by BASF Venture Capital GmbH, the corporate venture company of BASF SE, and Inflexor Ventures, an early stage deeptech/IP focused VC Fund. The round also includes participation from StartupXseed, Pavestone Capital, Mankind Pharma family office, Survam Partners, Karsemven Fund, and other prominent family offices and angel investors.
During the past ten years, the number of satellites in space has increased almost tenfold and, based on announced private-sector missions, is likely to multiply rapidly in the next ten years.
In-space propulsion systems that save costs and use more environmentally friendly technologies are increasingly relevant to the growing satellite market. Orbital Transfer Vehicles are becoming the new means of reaching orbit on rideshare missions for micro and small satellites.
Founded by Rohan Ganapathy and Yashas Karanam in 2015, the Bengaluru-based company has pioneered several firsts in the industry, including the world’s first commercial Microwave Plasma Thruster; India’s first privately built Hall Effect Thruster (HET) system; and India’s first High-Performance Green Propulsion system.
The company is committed to ESG compliance and sustainability with its impetus on greener technologies.
The Microwave Plasma Thruster uses water as a propellant and the Green Monopropellant Thruster uses a proprietary high-performance fuel and catalyst, that is not only more eco-friendly but also easier to handle than conventionally used fuels for satellite propulsion systems. The HET is a type of ion thruster in which the propellant is accelerated by an electric field.
The company aims to utilize the funds for the development and testing of its four thruster modules and go to market by the end of the year with its technology. The funds are also used towards the company’s evolution into a full-fledged space transportation technology company with its Orbital Transfer Vehicle with capabilities to deploy customer satellites to their orbits quickly as well as perform missions to the geostationary orbit (GEO) and beyond.
Bellatrix has closed contracts from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and other undisclosed customers. (Bellatrix was the first startup in India to be awarded a developmental contract by ISRO towards satellite propulsion technology.) The space qualification testing is expected to be completed in the coming months.
The technologies being developed for use in space have the potential to offer many opportunities for the chemical industry, for example in new materials and for innovative application cases of chemistry on earth and in orbit. In India in particular, this industry is currently experiencing an unprecedented upturn.
It is BVC’s task to invest in young companies with disruptive technologies. We are pleased to be able to support Bellatrix, an up-and-coming company with promising technologies for the space industry, and look forward to exploring opportunities for collaboration.—Markus Solibieda, Managing Director of BASF Venture Capital GmbH