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Spacetech startup EtherealX raises funding from Campus Fund, others 

EtherealX, a startup in the space technology sector focusing on reusable satellite launch vehicles, has secured its initial institutional funding. Investors, including Campus Fund, BlueHill Capital, and Riceberg Ventures, have participated in the funding round. The specific amount of funding has not been disclosed. 

EtherealX plans to use the recently acquired funds to advance the development of its privately designed 40-kilonewton semi-cryogenic rocket engine, as mentioned by the company’s founder and CEO, Manu Nair.

EtherealX aims to create reusable rockets, intending to recover both rocket stages back to Earth after a flight, according to Nair. Currently, SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, stands as the primary rocket manufacturer engaged in commercial orbital launches using reusable rockets, especially in the medium-lift and heavy-lift segments.

One of the startup’s initiatives is the Razor Crest Mk-1, intended to be the world’s premier fully reusable medium-lift launch vehicle. This model is crafted to send payloads weighing up to 24.8 tonnes to the Lower Earth Orbit (LEO) in an expendable configuration, 22.8 tonnes in a partially reusable configuration, and 8 tonnes in a fully reusable configuration to a 400-kilometer LEO.

The 11-member EtherealX team aims to make 25 launches and deploy over 500 tonnes into orbit over the next decade, Nair said. “Our decision to build a medium-lift vehicle was not because the class constituted a majority, if not all of the launch vehicles market, but because this segment coupled with reusability presented the finest balance between scalable launch technology and viable launch economics.” 

Richa Bajpai, who founded Campus Fund in July 2020, announced last month that the fund’s second fund of Rs 75 crore (approximately $9 million) was oversubscribed by 37%. This Bengaluru-based fund specializes in investing in startups led by students.

Nair completed his mechanical engineering degree at BML Munjal University in 2020. Following his graduation, he contributed to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), concentrating on the development of life support systems for space.

Prashanth Sharma, another co-founder, previously served as a member of the executive team at Manastu Space, a startup dedicated to building green propulsion technology for satellites and spacecraft in outer space.

The third co-founder, Shubhayu Sardar, accumulated about a decade of experience at ISRO, focusing on assembling, integrating, testing, and qualifying the Indian fleet of launch vehicles and spacecraft. He was also selected as one of the 23 scientists from ISRO centers for Project Gaganyaan.

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