We are very excited to announce Automotive Ventures’ first space-related investment into Auriga Space from our Mobility Fund.
As a reminder, the way we define mobility at Automotive Ventures is how we move humans and cargo across the modalities of ground transport, on the water, in the air, and through space. While most of our investments so far out of the Mobility Fund have been in the ground-transport area, we’re very excited to have made our first space-related investment with Auriga.
Auriga Space is a startup with a novel electromagnetic launch system that has raised $5 million for prototyping and expanding its Los Angeles facility. The company’s investor group includes Trucks Ventures Capital, Seraphim Space, Possible Ventures, Unlock Ventures, DNX Ventures, Monte Carlo Capital, Vermillion Ventures, Heuristic Capital and Syndicate 708.
We’re very excited to be backing dynamic entrepreneur Winnie Lai, who founded Auriga in 2022, naming the company after the constellation depicting a chariot rider in Greek mythology. Lai previously served as a VP at SpinLaunch, a startup using a spin accelerator to launch projectiles, before she started her own kinetic space launch system, this time using electromagnetism.
Auriga Space was founded in 2022 to build the next generation of launch infrastructure for significantly higher cadence and cheaper launch. The LA-based business has a bold mission: reduce launch costs while introducing a clean energy alternative into the launch market.
The company’s launch system relies on a ground-based electromagnetic track that uses electricity to create a powerful magnetic field. The energy from the magnets accelerates a projectile down the track at incredible speed — think of it as a similar technology to a high-speed maglev train.
Then, aiming the accelerator upwards, Auriga will shoot the vehicle out into the atmosphere. After reaching a high altitude using just kinetic energy from the launch, the vehicle will then fire up its engines to complete the less intensive last leg to orbit.
Just to be clear, the electromagnetic launch system takes the place of a first-stage rocket. A second stage rocket will still be needed to reach orbit.
The electromagnetic ground launch system uses a fully reusable track, reducing costs by eliminating valves, expensive rocket engines, fuel, and expendable systems.
The majority of fuel in traditional launch is used by the first-stage rocket, during the first two to three minutes of flight. Auriga’s electromagnetic ground launch system is powered by electricity, saving all of this weight, and protecting the upper atmosphere from hydrocarbons.
Rocket launch solutions are inherently inefficient - only 2% of total mass is payload - and new rocket solutions up until now have resulted in only very modest improvements to cost.
Auriga Space is developing a kinetic launch system that leverages magnets to levitate and propel payloads to very quick velocities to escape Earth’s gravity. By overcoming the inefficiency of rockets, Auriga can achieve significantly cheaper launch and can launch multiple times a day.
While Auriga is Automotive Ventures’ first foray into the Space segment, it certainly won’t be our last. We’re honored to have an opportunity to work closely with Winnie and her team at Auriga Space, and thrilled to be on this journey with them.