"To infinity and beyond!" is a catchphrase made famous by Toy Story, but its meaning, ‘limitless possibility’, is exactly what high-growth startup Dawn Aerospace has in mind for its future.
The company plans to reshape the future of space transportation and infrastructure to be a lot like what ideal transportation solutions look like on earth - easily available, cost-effective and sustainable.
“Space represents a brand-new frontier for us to colonise and benefit from. On earth, to truly enable our economy, we move around using highways and vehicles, with fuel stations and mechanics to fix those vehicles. We need the equivalent infrastructure in space,” explains Co-Founder James Powell. He adds that we’re only scratching the surface of what’s possible in space. “Think about what an incredible enabler GPS has been. There are hundreds of ways in which we can use space to improve life on earth. The transformative potential is out there - we just need to tap into it.”
With full-blown space transportation still requiring intensive product development and several years away, the company’s near-term business goal is to scale its in-space propulsion products so that it can reinvest the profit in further R&D of it’s Mk-II and Mk-III planes - which utilise rocket engines - to become a fully-fledged, highly reusable orbital flight service.
This strategy has paid dividends, with Dawn Aerospace developing a commercially robust business and strong customer relationships that see customers buy and trust their satellite solutions. They keep coming back for more!
“GD1 has been instrumental in helping us benchmark ourselves against competitor products so we can understand what we are doing well; and what we can improve on. Startups are all about learning on an ongoing basis and GD1 has helped streamline and accelerate that learning.”
We share a little more about their journey...
Company stage: Pre-series A
Founded in: 2017
Staff count: 62, plus contractors and interns
Locations: NZ, the Netherlands and expanding to the US
Vertical: Space tech
Revenue growth more than doubling annually
Pipeline growth of 250% annually
Dawn Aerospace is highly acclaimed in industry, winning: Best Emerging Business in New Zealand International Business Awards (NZIBA) 2022; Startup of the Year, New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards 2020; Champion Supreme Award, NZTE Emerging Exporter Award; and ChristchurchNZ Champion Innovation Award, Westpac Champion Business Awards 2021.
Building scalable, sustainable space transportation solutions for commercial satellite operators is a difficult problem to solve. Waste products from this type of activity landing in the world’s oceans isn't such a serious problem (yet) because only a hundred or so rockets are launched annually. It becomes a much bigger problem as space activity scales, which it is busy doing.
In addition, the cost of high-quality systems can be prohibitive. For small satellites, Dawn Aerospace provides high-performance, reliable, cost effective systems for teams with much smaller budgets. These provide the same capabilities that traditionally only very large or institutional entities can afford for their $1B satellites.
Dawn Aerospace provides propulsion products with higher performance than alternatives. They are an agile company, able to supply customers quickly with lead times most others can’t comprehend let alone aspire to. Dawn is on track to become the most popular green chemical satellite propulsion system in space. The startup’s propulsion units have launched on SpaceX, Soyuz and Vega.
The reasons clients keep coming back are innumerable, including:
- Must- have capabilities they can't easily find elsewhere
- Cost effective product
- Extremely fast turnarounds in an extremely slow market
- Full transparency which drives customer trust
- Quick response times and a customer-first culture in an industry which is typically secretive and elusive
What’s more, the company takes a consultative, first-principles approach to solving client problems. “We don't push one product choice. We understand what they're trying to do, give them a series of options with pros and cons for each, then build something fast and unique for them,” says James.
Dawn Aerospace has used recent funding rounds to scale production to meet customer demand and continues to develop products and services for the future of sustainable space transportation.
Dawn Aerospace is ambitious about today; but even more so about tomorrow. It’s reshaping space travel as is; and reimagining space travel of the future. This is a lens every business should have.
1 November, 2022 - Sidus Space - Sidus Space Engages Dawn Aerospace to Implement Propulsion Technology into LizzieSatTM
27 September, 2022 - New Zealand Government - Backing world-class innovation in New Zealand
29 August, 2022 - New Zealand’s Quest for a Sustainable Space Industry Via Satellite
10 May, 2022 - Scoop - Dawn Aerospace Propelled Into Top 100 ‘best Tech Start-ups’ To Work For In Aotearoa