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2015-16

The three company Co-Founders first met in 2015 while at the University of Cambridge.

As part of the rocketry group out of the Engineering Department, the team helped design, build and launch a major sounding rocket from the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA.

The flight vehicle measured 3m in length and reached a maximum velocity just below Mach 3.

 
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2017

Building upon the previous launch, and now leading the Cambridge group, the team were able to help develop a more complex multi-stage vehicle which launched during a return visit to the US desert in September 2017.

The vehicle utilised a fully custom airframe and bespoke flight avionics, and used a COTs solid rocket motor.

The off-the-shelf propulsion system suffered a catastrophic explosion shortly after takeoff.

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2018

Inspired by the failure of a commercial-off-the-shelf rocket motor, the team set out to do better.

 

Having experienced firsthand the unreliability of existing chemical propulsion systems the team narrowed research focus to develop systems that could be more reliable and lower cost. 

A hot-fire test of the first custom 3.5kN engine was conducted.

 
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2019

In 2019 Protolaunch Ltd was formally established to commercialise the technology under development.

A bottom-up approach to propulsion design targetting high reliability and reduced manufacturing complexity.

The company began to establish itself in the UK propulsion sector and moved into offices in the Westcott Space Cluster full-time.

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2020

Protolaunch secured our first contract with the European Space Agency.

With multiple projects underway, covering the full breadth of propulsion hardware, thermodynamic simulation, and electronic control systems, the company started to grow.

Protolaunch joined the ESA Business Incubation Centre in Harwell.

 

Q4 2020 saw a hugely successful hot-fire test campaign of the HILBERT engine. 

 
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2021

Protolaunch reinvested profits to establish a dedicated propulsion test facility at Westcott Venture Park.

Renovating a retired military facility, the site is now fully equipped for bipropellant rocket engine testing up to 15kN.

This new capability allows Protolaunch to rapidly iterate our propulsion products.

The company won further contracts from the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency and delivered projects for multiple commercial customers.

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The Future

The space environment is on the verge of a paradigm shift; what was once a place to explore is now a place to do business.

 

The In-Space economy is set to be worth $1Trillion by 2040. Billion-dollar companies are set to emerge and Protolaunch thrusters will be powering the new business models that underpin this new In-Space economy.

With hot-fire tested demonstrator hardware, space agency support, and a rapidly growing expert team; Protolaunch is now working with strategic aerospace partners to qualify and deploy our propulsion systems into NewSpace applications.

As a company that has previously bootstrapped growth to date, Protolaunch is now entering a new phase of growth as we rapidly bring our propulsion products to market for commercial customers.