The world may soon have another space baron.
Bill Gates' multibillion-dollar clean-tech initiative Breakthrough Energy Ventures has completed a $65 million funding round for the reusable rocket developer called Stoke Space, according to a Wednesday press release.
So don't look away, because you might miss the makings of humanity's future.
Bill Gates may join the ranks of billionaire space barons
The Series A funding round involved several new investors, including Spark Capital, Point72 Ventures, Toyota Ventures, Alameda Research, and Global Founders Capital, in addition to existing investors like NFX, MaC Ventures, Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six, and Joe Montana’s Liquid2.
The company will use the funding of its fully reusable rockets via flight tests during the second stage of development. In case you missed it, fully reusable second-stage rockets are vehicles that can be brought back to Earth without relying on pricey shielding technology. Stoke Space operates out of a 21,000 square-foot (roughly 1,950 square-meter) headquarters focused on engineering and manufacturing, in addition to a rocket test facility on a 2.3-acre (9,308-square-meter) area. The few hours of driving distance between Stoke’s factory and the test site enables the company to execute daily production.
Second-stage flight tests could begin late in 2022
Stoke previously announced that it had raised $9.1 million in seed funding and research revenue from NASA and the National Science Foundation in February. The company has completed the manufacturing demonstration of a full-scale second-stage rocket, and conducted full-power test firings of its second-stage engine, nicknamed "the three-pack", because it features triplet thrust chambers. “Everything we do is with long-term sustainability and scalability in mind. If we’re going to continue to scale our civilization, space is going to be one of the necessary and major pillars that supports that growth. When we surveyed our nascent industry, we didn’t see anybody working on the solutions that represent its inevitable end-state," said Andy Lapsa, CEO and co-founder of Stoke, in the release. "We’ve already demonstrated many of the core elements of the technology using a small and elite team, and we’re excited to ramp up development with this new funding".
Lapsa said that Stoke aims to begin up-and-down flight tests of its second stage by the end of 2022, adding: “It’s designed to come back from orbit and land vertically at a precision location," according to a report from Geekwire. "And that means that it can also take off from that precision location. So we’ll just fly it right off the ground. It’ll look a lot like the Starship." While major firms like Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Chinese rocket manufacturer LinkSpace had used a reusable rocket before, it's incredible to note that another budding Space Baron, Bill Gates himself, may soon join the fray of financiers of Space Race 2.0.