Dawn Aerospace was founded in 2016 by Jeroen Wink, Stefan Powell, Robert Werner, Tobias Knop, and James Powell and has locations in Delft and New Zealand. The company is a spin-off from the TU Delft and part of the YES!Delft and StarBurst accelerator programmes. Dawn Aerospace is developing a reusable rocket for satellite launches as well as propulsion systems (thrusters) that are powered by non-toxic gasses. The rocket, also called ‘spaceplane’, will fly autonomously and can enter space several times a day, bringing small satellites into orbit around the earth.
Sustainable space innovations
Dawn Aerospace previously received MIT funding, a subsidy scheme set up by the Province of Zuid-Holland and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, to stimulate regional SMEs to develop new innovative products and services. This grant was used for the early stage development of their innovative thruster and Mk-II spaceplane. The spaceplane was successfully tested in August 2018 and an official launch of the Mk-II is expected in 2020.
Jeroen Wink, CEO Dawn Aerospace:
“In these incredibly exciting times for the space industry, the Mk-II Spaceplane will be the first in a series of reusable spacecraft that will radically change access to space”
Thrusters enable satellites to maneuver once they are in space. Adjustments may be necessary during the lifespan of the satellite, but the thrusters can also be used to push the satellite out of orbit at the end of its life cycle, avoiding space debris. Unlike conventional propulsion systems, which use hydrazine, the Dawn Aerospace thrusters are powered by a combination of widely available non-toxic gases. This makes the thrusters much more applicable, while maintaining the advantages chemically powered thrusters have over electric alternatives. The first thruster is scheduled to be launched from French Guyana in July 2019. A second launch, in cooperation with Dutch satellite company Hiber, will include the MIT-funded system and is planned for October 2019.
New opportunities for the transforming New Space Industry
The thruster technology is used to develop the spaceplane, which will launch small satellites in a more flexible, faster and cost-effective way. This is yet an unfulfilled gap in the ever growing market for small satellites for which Dawn Aerospace will offer a solution.
Francis Quint, head of InnovationQuarter Capital:
“This investment allows Dawn Aerospace to take the next steps in the development of their spaceplane, which enables faster, more cost-effective and greener satellite launches. We expect Dawn Aerospace to develop into a fast growing and important player within the West Holland aerospace cluster.