Harwell Campus-based start-up, Magdrive, has closed a £1.4 million seed funding round to help the development of its revolutionary plasma thruster for the new space age.
Magdrive’s investment round was led by Founders Fund, backed by Luminous Ventures, 7percent Ventures and Entrepreneur First.
Based at the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre at Harwell Campus, Magdrive says its ultra-efficient electric system, with an unparalleled power-to-mass ratio, delivers high thrusts for all satellite manoeuvres and missions using a high-density propellant that burns 100x hotter than a rocket. The plasma, which is contained by magnetic fields, reducing mass and launch costs, is an enabler for entirely new space missions and business models.
Magdrive is developing a revolutionary thruster for satellite propulsion. This new plasma thruster combines both the high thrust of chemical rockets and the high efficiency of other electric thrusters, with the ability for extremely deep throttle and variable specific impulse. This allows for significantly increased satellite lifespans, for low-cost constellation management.
The founders – Dr Thomas Clayson and Mark Stokes – say the Magdrive propulsion system delivers an unmatched level of thrust (>100mN/kg) with extraordinary efficiency (>2000s) that will unlock new capabilities for spacecraft and enable entirely new industries in satellite servicing, orbital assembly and interplanetary transport.
Dr Thomas Clayson is a Plasma Physicist and Pulsed Power Engineer of Imperial College London and obtained his PhD in plasma laboratory astrophysics in 2018. Thomas has used pulsed power machines and high powered lasers to generate plasmas, studying the effects of magnetic fields, shock waves and radiation.
Mark Stokes is a Mechanical and Machine Learning Engineer of Imperial College London. He has worked at startups and Fortune 500 companies in sales, and in nanomechanics, industrial design, signal processing, computer vision for robotics and aerospace.