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IENAI Space Raises €3.9M to Advance Small Satellite Propulsion Technology

IENAI Space secures €3.9M to advance ATHENA thruster technology, revolutionizing small satellite propulsion and expanding its space industry footprint.
June 18, 2024

Aiming to revolutionize space mobility, Spanish startup IENAI Space has secured €3.9 million in its latest funding round, propelling its total funding to €7 million. This injection of capital is set to accelerate the commercialization of its innovative thruster technology and expand its footprint in the space industry.

IENAI Space specializes in electrospray propulsion systems designed to meet the unique requirements of small satellite missions. Their flagship product, the ATHENA thruster, is a 0.5U thruster built for satellites weighing between 3kg and 50kg. Utilizing advanced nanotechnology, ATHENA offers unmatched efficiency and customization options, setting a new standard for small satellite propulsion.

The latest funding round follows a significant milestone for IENAI Space: the successful 400-hour firing of the ATHENA thruster, independently verified by the European Space Agency (ESA). This achievement marks the longest firing duration of an ionic-liquid electrospray thruster in Europe and was a critical part of a successful preliminary design review with ESA.

Additionally, IENAI has made strides with its 360 space mobility and mission analysis software tool. The beta test of 360 saw participation from around 30 companies, and the company is now onboarding startups from various European incubation and acceleration programs as part of their IRIS program, in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The latest funding round saw participation from notable Spanish investors, including Inveready, WA4STEAM, DPM, GED Conexo Ventures, and CDTI, a government-backed investor. The new capital will be used to speed up the commercialization of IENAI’s propulsion system, expand its customer base for software tools, and open new facilities to support its growing team.

IENAI Space plans to increase its workforce from 22 to 30 employees this year, with hires across all departments. To further its technological advancements, the company will also bring on two new PhD candidates, adding to its current team of seven PhD candidates and six PhD full-time staff.

Future Endeavors and Collaborations

The next major step for IENAI is an in-orbit demonstration of the ATHENA propulsion system aboard the Cassini in-orbit demonstration (IOD) and in-orbit verification (IOV) mission. This mission, developed under the European Space Agency in collaboration with ISISPACE, is part of a Horizon Europe-funded initiative aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of the EU space industry through novel technology experiments in low earth orbit (LEO).

Looking ahead, IENAI Space plans to launch several key collaborations with established industry players, advance its current ESA projects. The company is also expanding its manufacturing and testing facilities across Europe, with clean-room facilities already operational in Madrid and Barcelona (Spain) and Uppsala (Sweden), through partnerships with CNM-CSIC and Uppsala University.

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