Exotrail set to expand in propulsion, space software and on-orbit transport systems

French venture capital firms Karista and Innovacom led the Series-A round, with participation from IXO Private Equity, NCI-Waterstart and Turenne Capital, plus previous investors 360 Capital, Irdi Soridec Gestion and Bpifrance.

Exotrail set to expand in propulsion, space software and on-orbit transport systems
Exotrail set to expand in propulsion, space software and on-orbit transport systems

Exotrail set to expand in propulsion, space software and on-orbit transport systems

SpaceNews mentioned that Exotrail has raised 11 million euros ($13 million) from investors. French venture capital firms Karista and Innovacom led the Series-A round, with participation from IXO Private Equity, NCI-Waterstart and Turenne Capital, plus previous investors 360 Capital, Irdi Soridec Gestion and Bpifrance.

David Henri, Exotrail chief executive, mentioned in an interview that Massy and Toulouse, France-based Exotrail has raised 17 million euros since forming in 2017. The company plans to use its new funding to further product development, increase manufacturing capabilities, and hire business development staff in Europe and in North America.

He also added that Exotrail plans to expand its manufacturing capacity from roughly 10 propulsion systems a year today to around 100 annually by 2022 or 2023, and increase its headcount to 50 people, up from 27. Exotrail has a demonstration propulsion system on a NanoAvionics cubesat awaiting launch on an Indian PSLV mission that has been delayed from November 2019. The pandemic has clouded the timeline for that launch.

He also stated that Exotrail has propulsion systems on other smallsats including one launching on a SpaceX Falcon 9 late this year for an undisclosed customer and two launching next year on cubesats Clyde Space is building for Eutelsat. By 2024, Exotrail hopes to launch its first in-space transportation system, dubbed Space Van, that would provide last-mile services for 10 or more nanosatellites, bringing customers to their desired orbits after launcher separation, he said.

The French space agency CNES awarded Exotrail a 100,000-euro contract earlier this year to help fund the design phase for Space Van. Henri said Space Van is a “long term vision,” and that Exotrail isn’t worried about following after companies like Momentus and D-Orbit that are designing vehicles for similar services on shorter timescales. 

Exotrail hopes to evolve Space Van into a satellite servicer in 2025 for life extension and in-space assembly. For areas out of Exotrail’s primary areas of expertise, the company would rely on partners for robotics and other elements of the servicer.