In a leap towards unlocking the mysteries of fast and efficient deep space travel, Helicity Space has secured a substantial $5 million in seed funding. The Pasadena-based tech startup is at the forefront of a technological revolution that aims to transform fusion propulsion from science fiction into reality.
Fusion propulsion has long been a dream in the realms of space exploration, and Helicity Space claims to have discovered a groundbreaking approach using plasma jets for fusion reactions. The brainchild of plasma physicist Setthivoine You, along with co-founders Stephane Lintner and Marta Calvo, Helicity Space was formalized in 2018 after years of meticulous planning and research.
Operating discreetly in stealth mode during the initial phases, Helicity Space sought to solidify the feasibility of their fusion propulsion concept before seeking venture capital. Lintner, the CEO and former banker, emphasized the challenges associated with fusion technology and the need for certainty before entering the realm of VC funding.
The recent $5 million seed funding round was secured from an impressive lineup of investors, including Airbus Ventures, the VC arm of the major European aerospace giant; TRE Advisors; Voyager Space Holdings; E2MC Space; Urania Ventures; and Gaingels.
Helicity Space sets itself apart by concentrating solely on fusion propulsion tailored for deep space travel rather than terrestrial applications. Lintner clarified, “Everything we do is about pushing a spaceship forward and not generating sustainable grid power.” Leveraging the vacuum of space, ideal for plasma jets, forms the core advantage of Helicity’s approach.
The startup’s technology is anchored in magneto-inertial fusion, a method involving the compression of stable plasma jets with a magnetic nozzle. By heating the plasma to hundreds of millions of degrees, a fusion reaction is triggered, propelling the spaceship forward.
The immediate plan is to utilize the funding to develop a proof-of-concept fusion drive, demonstrating the fundamental technology on a small scale. Looking ahead, Helicity aims to have a full prototype in space within the next decade, showcasing the potential of fusion propulsion for deep space exploration.
Lintner acknowledged the early-stage nature of the venture and the inherent risks in the evolving fusion drive market. He highlighted the increasing importance of such engines as the space economy develops, emphasizing that the final business model remains a challenging aspect to predict. As Helicity Space ventures into the uncharted territories of fusion propulsion, it holds the promise of reshaping the future of deep space exploration.