Swiss Space Sytems Hopes to “SOAR” with Investor Campaign

Image Credit: Swiss Space Systems

Since the day it was announced, Swiss Space Systems has been among the more intriguing NewSpace companies enering the launch arena.  With its vision of a two/thirds reusable space launch platform consisting of a modified Airbus A-300 carrying aloft a fully reusable, unmanned winged second stage based on both European and American design heritage, S3 immediately placed itself in the forefront of small launch vehicle design as a company pushing the winged branch of re-usability. It chances are bolstered by the fact that unlike the larger, (and much more expendable) Stratolaunch, it is has chosen to enter what is undeniably the fasted growing segment of the launch market, small (under 250 kg) satellites.

The execution of its business plan is also noteworthy, using the same Airbus which will ultimately launch its small satellites in a global ZeroG parabolic flight tour while construction and testing of the second stage is underway. It is a move designed not only to generate revenue and operational flight experience, but also to build a brand identity while laying the groundwork for future passenger flights.  The non-U.S. angle may be of benefit as well, building on the Swiss tradition of neutrality to service an industry whose technology has compressed to the point any nation can now operate its own spacecraft. Furthermore, its concept of regional operational centers may very well help to lead it to the top of a growing pack of prospective smallsat launch providers, most of which are hampered in some way by ITAR.  Those advantages should remain provided the technology works, the timetable is mostly kept and no-one else manages to establish a dramatically lower price point as SpaceX has done on the larger end of the market. One thing seems certain. S3 will not lack for competitors, which should make for an interesting second half of the decade.

Earlier this week, S3 announced that it is seeking investors to help expand and accelerate its entry into the launch market. The full announcement, on the S3 website, shows an good grasp of its self awareness as a “NewSpace” company even as the excerpt included below focuses on the hard business of raising capital.

S3 is the only private commercial space company announcing such an ambitious but realistic project outside of the USA. (emphasis added) By pioneering the next European space age, S3 is creating a precedent that is attracting industrial leaders, governments and investors. As a result, many opportunities are presented to S3, as it looks to capture the most promising ones for rapid growth. S3 ZeroG was born from the willingness to optimize and monetize an asset for actual market demand, and S3 is now looking to aggressively materialize such opportunities, by penetrating new markets to ensure its leadership, by securing access to key technologies through acquisitions, or by further developing proprietary solutions with the objective of realizing higher profits.

As such, S3 is talking to investors around the globe looking to deploy capital alongside or to directly invest in key technologies or related growth projects. S3’s key people have been running road shows in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, where visionary companies and investors recognize the potential of the active commercialization of space. Discussions with strategic partners for a direct investment into the S3 group of companies in the $33-55 million range are being held.

While the S3 Group has not announced any specific binding agreement yet, it welcomes discussions about opening the equity of underlying companies of S3 in order to build a quicker access to market and strengthen its market position internationally.

S3 aims to bring alongside the company a stronger consortium of partners to dominate the growing small satellite segment, and offering a more integrated end-to-end solution to the market.

As part of this international road show, an S3 Swiss Investor Pitch Day reserved to high net worth individuals, family offices, pension fund companies and other wealth management professionals will be held on September 12th in S3’s headquarters in Payerne (Switzerland).”

S3 announced earlier this summer that it would begin with a helicopter captive-carry campaign of a SOAR spaceplane mockup “in 2014”  out of a newly established test range in Canada.

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