Chinese private space launch firm LandSpace announced on Tuesday that it has secured 500 million yuan ($71 million) in a Series C round of financing from Country Garden Venture Capital, a private equity vehicle of Chinese property developer Country Garden.
The new investment will finance the development and launch preparation of a new medium-scale liquid-fuelled carrier rocket, Zhuque-2 (ZQ-2), which was named after a Chinese mythical creature that represents the fire, according to a company statement.
Proceeds from the new round will also be used to enhance the research and development, mass production, as well as technological iteration of ZQ-2 and the company’s liquid rocket engines, Tianque (TQ).
LandSpace, founded in June 2015 and formally known as LandSpace Technology Corporation, operates as a private aerospace enterprise primarily engaged in the research and development, as well as operations of small and medium-scale commercial launch vehicles. The Beijing-based company specializes in liquid-fuel rocket engines (LREs) and low-cost commercial launch vehicles with independent intellectual property rights.
The four-year-old company completed the Series C round more than one year after Zhuque-1 (ZQ-1), LandSpace’s debut three-stage carrier rocket, was launched at northwestern China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in late October 2018. The debut rocket failed to reach orbit due to an issue with the third stage, according to a company microblog post at that time.
The failed launch of ZQ-1 did not stop LandSpace from collecting capital and growing in China’s early-stage commercial aerospace market, which saw the completion of at least 36 investments last year with about one-third of these deals closed in angel and seed rounds of financing, according to a report from China’s industry think-tank FutureAerospace.
As the country’s latest private space launch developer to secure fresh funds, LandSpace is developing alongside over 30 domestic fellows including GalaxySpace, OneSpace, i-Space, and Commsat under the support of more than 70 investment companies, as per the same report.
Country Garden Venture Capital, the investor behind some of China’s most high-profile technology companies like ByteDance, regards “high-demand, large-profit and high-barrier medium and large-scale liquid-fuelled rockets” as an important vertical to make investments, Shen Ye, managing director of the investment company, as cited as saying in the statement.
“It is also the key area for private space launch companies to grow their competitiveness and realize differentiated development,” said Shen.
LandSpace raised 100 million yuan ($14 million) in a Series B++ round earlier this year. The previous round was backed by Chinese investment company Shanghai Yisheng Investment Management, Shanghai-listed venture capital firm Luxin, and a Chinese government-led fund specialized in high-end equipment investments.
The company also closed 300 million yuan ($43 million) in a Series B+ round led by Chinese early-stage investment firm China Growth Capital in November 2018. China’s Zhongji Investment, Ningbo-based Joint Capital, Hong Kong-listed wind turbine manufacturer Goldwind, 36Kr Fund, a venture capital platform of Nasdaq-listed Chinese news and data website 36Kr, and other investors also participated in the round.