Spain’s PLD Space has won the second phase of the PERTE Aeroespacial project to develop a Spanish launcher for small satellites.
Press Release, Elche, 26 January 2024: [auto-translated] The company PLD Space has won the second phase of the project to develop a Spanish launcher for small satellites, framed in the PERTE Aeroespacial, which has a tender of 40.5 million euros. The company has been selected as the sole contractor, after receiving the best technical qualification from the Contracting Board made up of independent experts from the Center for Technological Development and Innovation (CDTI).
The objective of this Aerospace PERTE project, promoted by the Government of Spain, is to assign a country’s strategic capacity such as access to space. To achieve this, the contract requires the successful bidder to manufacture and test a flight unit of an orbital launcher by 2025. The project is managed through the CDTI’s pre-commercial public purchasing instrument, which works with a compensation format, which requires the return of the amount received. This reimbursement will be made through the payment of royalties during the first 10 years of its commercial stage, scheduled for 2026.
For the evaluation of the proposal, PLD Space has presented the preliminary design (PDR, for its nomenclature in the space sector) of MIURA 5 with a very advanced level of detail, which has been selected after a rigorous assessment process by the independent committee of this Aerospace PERTE project, coordinated by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities.
“The technical resolution in favour of PLD Space confirms that our technological development strategy is correct and is based on a solid business plan,” highlights the executive president of PLD Space, Ezequiel Sánchez. “Winning this public contract to create a strategic country capability reinforces our position as a leading company to guarantee Europe’s access to space.”
MIURA 5 design maturity: PLD Space was already selected in the first phase of this PERTE project, in July 2023, awarded with 1.5 million euros per successful bidder and focused on the design of the launcher. During the following six months, the company has focused on achieving the maturity level of the requested preliminary design (PDR, according to nomenclature in the space sector), as well as generating all the justification documentation.
“The team’s effort in preparing such a quantity of information with such high quality has been titanic,” says the CEO and co-founder of PLD Space, Raúl Torres. Furthermore, the preparation of the preliminary design of MIURA 5 has coincided in time with the launch and post-launch campaign of MIURA 1, so that the company has been able to integrate the lines of improvement detected with the first flight of the technological demonstrator. “Having a preliminary design of MIURA 5 at this high level of detail means a drastic reduction in its materialisation,” Torres points out.
MIURA 5 roadmap: PERTE conditions are in line with the program milestones established in the PLD Space roadmap. This 2024 begins with the first tests of mechanisms and components of the MIURA 5 (TEPREL-C) engine, specifically, the combustion chambers, gas generators and turbopumps.
Likewise, this year the company faces different challenges related to the infrastructure that will support the development of its orbital launcher. In the first half, the inauguration of the new PLD Space headquarters in Elche (Alicante) will take place, sized for the manufacturing and integration of the first MIURA 5 units. “We are building a unique industrial capacity in Europe from ‘provinces’ , based on the verticalisation and strengthening of the regional and national supply chain, so that it provides us with stability, control and agility,” says the head of Business Development and co-founder of PLD Space, Raúl Verdú.
While, in the second half of 2024, the civil works of the launch base will begin at the European CSG spaceport, in Kourou (French Guiana), belonging to the CNES. For this semester, the next phase of expansion of the test benches that the firm has at Teruel Airport is also planned.
As a notable milestone, PLD Space plans to grow its workforce from the current 165 employees to a total of 300 by the end of 2024.During 2025, the focus will be on the qualification and maiden flight of the first MIURA 5 unit. The start of the company’s commercial activity is expected in 2026 with the ultimate goal of exceeding 30 launches.