LandSpace, a privately-owned aerospace startup in China, has pocketed 1.2 billion yuan ($175 million) in a Series C+ round, the company announced in a WeChat post on Wednesday.
The fundraising comes close on the heels of Beijing-based iSpace’s nearly 1.2 billion yuan Series B round in late August and showcases investors’ growing confidence in the country’s nascent commercial aerospace development. iSpace had, in 2019, become China’s first private company to successfully place a satellite into orbit.
LandSpace’s Series C+ round was led by Sequoia Capital China; Matrix Partners China; Country Garden Venture Capital, an equity investment platform of Chinese property developer Country Garden; and “a publicly-traded company owned by Chinese private equity firm Co-Stone Asset Management”.
China’s National Small-Medium Enterprises Development Fund, a state-owned fund of funds (FOF), also poured money into the deal.
A range of new investors including China-focused, early-stage venture capital firm Lightspeed China Partners; Gopher Asset Management, a platform of financial services firm Noah Holdings; Cedarlake Capital, which was created in 2016 by former Morgan Stanley executive Bao Yi; and Hong Kong-listed Chinese property developer Sunac China, participated.
Existing shareholders including China’s Yisheng Investment, state-owned asset manager Lucion Investment’s VC arm, and early-stage investment firm Joint Capital re-upped in the new round.
The proceeds will be used to finance the R&D of LandSpace’s medium-scale and low-cost commercial launch vehicle “ZQ-2,” and to enhance its capabilities in developing and producing medium- and large-sized liquid-fueled rockets, the company said.
“The recent aerospace industry development in the US shows that it’s feasible for privately-owned companies to provide low-Earth-orbit space vehicles. The success of SpaceX has promoted such commercialisation,” Luo Zhuo, founding partner of THG Ventures, which participated in the latest funding round, said in the WeChat post.
Beijing-based LandSpace, formally known as LandSpace Technology Corporation, was founded in June 2015 to focus on the design, development, manufacturing, and operation of small- and medium-sized launch vehicles. The startup primarily develops liquid propellant rocket engines (LREs) and low-cost rockets, which provide launch services to commercial satellites and special-purpose spacecraft.
Its pipeline of products comprises the Tianque series rocket engines, which include a 10-tonne liquid-oxygen methane engine “TQ-11” and an 80-tonne liquid-oxygen methane engine “TQ-12”.
The startup also develops the Zhuque series launchers including “ZQ-1,” a three-stage rocket that had failed in its launch mission in October 2018, and “ZQ-2,” powered by a LOX/LCH4 liquid-fuelled rocket engine.
The liquid oxygen and liquid methane (LOX/LCH4) propellant combination, which is also used by America’s aerospace firms SpaceX and Blue Origin, is widely recognised by global commercial launcher developers as the propellant choice for next-generation, low-cost launchers. ZQ-2 is China’s first low-cost launcher with the liquid propellant combination of LOX/LCH4, it is claimed.