Stoke Space is flying high. Fresh on the heels of a successful test of its reusable second stage, the four-year-old startup announced today that it closed $100 million in new funding led by Industrious Ventures.
This newest round of funding included participation from the University of Michigan, Sparta Group, Long Journey and other investors. Existing investors Breakthrough Energy, Y Combinator, Point72 Ventures, NFX, MaC Ventures, Toyota Ventures and In-Q-Tel also participated. Stoke has now raised $175 million to date, including a $65 million Series A the company closed in December 2021.
Stoke said it would use the new capital to fund the development of its first rocket, which the company has finally christened, giving it the name “Nova.” That includes the development of the first-stage engine and structure, an orbital version of the second stage and building out launch infrastructure at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The company recently completed a critical “hop” test of its reusable upper stage, successfully flying the development vehicle to an altitude of around 30 feet and vertically landing it about 15 feet away. While those numbers might seem unimpressive on the face of it, the hop proved out the stage’s novel oxygen-hydrogen rocket engine design. Unlike other nozzled rocket engines, the one on Stoke’s second stage is a distributed system, with thrusters that ring the circumference of the second stage.
The flight essentially concluded the development cycle of the second stage, meaning that the architecture is now complete and the company can move on to the rest of the vehicle’s structure. As Stoke co-founder CEO Andy Lapsa told TechCrunch last month, the company had to finalize the architecture of the second stage before building out the rest of the vehicle.
“The first step on our journey was figuring out what a fully reusable upper stage and space vehicle looks like,” he said. “We really believe that it’s hard to build the rest of the vehicle until you know an answer. So that’s why a lot of our focus so far has been on the reusable second stage.”
The company also announced that multinational chemical company Linde plc’s chairman, Steve Angel, will join Stoke’s board of directors. Angel is the former CEO of Linde and also sits on the board of GE.
The new funding will no doubt aid the company as it looks to conduct its first orbital flight test in 2025.
“We are pushing really hard to get to orbit by 2025,” Lapsa said. “There are some interesting opportunities there to do things even before that. That’s our target. We’re going to step back from this a little bit, recalibrate, crystallize our plan. We do have a plan. We’re just going to get more energy behind it and then get back to knocking off milestones.”