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Stable Road and Momentus reach SEC settlement over false claims

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has reached a settlement with in-space transportation company Momentus and the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) it is planning to merge with regarding false claims the companies made, while continuing to pursue legal action against the Russian founder of Momentus.

The SEC announced July 13 it is settling charges against Momentus and Stable Road Acquisition Corporation as well as Stable Road’s chief executive, Brian Kabot and Stable Road’s sponsor, SRC-NI. The settlement includes more than $8 million in penalties and other conditions on both Momentus and its merger with Stable Road.

The SEC alleged that Momentus and its Russian co-founder and former chief executive, Mihkail Kokorich, misled Stable Road about the state of its technology as well as national security issues involving Kokorich. Stable Road, in turn, failed to perform proper due diligence to identify those issues, and endorsed those false claims in its merger documents.

One issue was the status of its key propulsion technology, water plasma thrusters, also known as microwave electro-thermal (MET) thrusters. Momentus launched an experimental cubesat, called El Camino Real, in July 2019 to test those thrusters. In September 2019, Kokorich said that the cubesat had validated the technology. “Water plasma propulsion is now technologically mature enough to be baselined for operational in-space transportation missions,” he said in an interview with SpaceNews mentioned in SEC documents.

However, the SEC said that El Camino Real failed to demonstrate the technology. Internal company documents defined success as 100 thruster firings, each lasting at least one minute, but the thruster failed to perform even one firing of that duration, and only three of 23 produced any plasma. Momentus lost contact with the satellite three months into a six-month mission.

While company executives, including Kokorich, were aware of the problems with the satellite, they did not disclose them either publicly or in discussions with Stable Road prior to their October 2020 merger announcement. Only in a revised registration statement, filed June 29, did they companies disclose that El Camino Real “did not demonstrate the MET’s ability to generate thrust in space.”

Stable Road, the SEC concluded, “acted unreasonably in adopting and repeating Momentus’s claim that it had successfully tested its technology in space when it had not conducted any specific due diligence to evaluate and verify the accuracy of that material assertion.” That included earlier SEC registration statements where the companies said Momentus had “successfully tested our water plasma propulsion technology in space.”

The second issue was national security concerns involving Kokorich, a Russian national. Momentus had previously failed to obtain an export control license to allow it to share technical material with Kokorich, only to be rejected by the federal government because it concluded he was not an “acceptable recipient.” His visa later expired but he stayed in the country while seeking political asylum. He left the country early this year and is now in Switzerland, according to the SEC documents.

Those issues contributed to Momentus’s difficulties obtaining a Federal Aviation Administration payload review, delaying launches of its first Vigoride tugs that had been scheduled for January and June on two SpaceX rideshare missions. However, the original registration statements did not disclose the full extent of the government’s national security concerns, which the SEC blamed on both the failure of Momentus to disclose that information and Stable Road to do due diligence.

All the parties involved other than Kokorich agreed to settle the SEC’s charges. Momentus will pay a $7 million fine, while Stable Road will pay a $1 million fine and Kabot a $40,000 fine. Momentus agreed to hire an independent compliance consultant to “conduct a comprehensive ethics and compliance program assessment” and then adopt the recommendations that consultant makes.

Stable Road will allow any investor that participated in a concurrent funding round with the SPAC merger, known as a private investment in public equity (PIPE), to withdraw from the deal. SRC-NI will forfeit 250,000 founder shares in the merged company it was entitled to under the original agreement.

The SEC also filed suit against Kokorich in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on fraud charges regarding misleading Stable Road about the state of the company’s technology and his national security issues. The SEC seeks return of “all funds received from his illegal conduct” and a bar from being an officer or director of a public company.

“Momentus’s former CEO is alleged to have engaged in fraud by misrepresenting the viability of the company’s technology and his status as a national security threat, inducing shareholders to approve a merger in which he stood to obtain shares worth upwards of $200 million,” Anita B. Bandy, associate director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said in a statement. “Our litigation against Kokorich demonstrates our commitment to holding individuals accountable for their statements to investors, which are of particular concern when they are aimed at improperly capitalizing on public interest in popular investment vehicles such as SPACs.”

The SEC appeared to use this case to warn of the dangers of SPAC mergers in general. “This case illustrates risks inherent to SPAC transactions, as those who stand to earn significant profits from a SPAC merger may conduct inadequate due diligence and mislead investors,” Gary Gensler, chair of the SEC, said in the statement. “Today’s actions will prevent the wrongdoers from benefitting at the expense of investors and help to better align the incentives of parties to a SPAC transaction with those of investors relying on truthful information to make investment decisions.”

The Stable Road-Momentus merger has encountered the most problems of any of the wave of SPAC deals involving space companies. That led Stable Road to renegotiate the merger June 29, slashing the valuation of Momentus in half to $566.6 million.

Several other SPAC mergers have either closed or are moving ahead with no reports of significant issues. Two Earth imaging companies, Planet and Satellogic, announced plans to go public last week through SPAC mergers.


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Source: https://spacenews.com/stable-road-and-momentus-reach-sec-settlement-over-false-claims/

Aerospace

Launch vehicle startup Isar Aerospace lands an additional $75M in funding

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A slew of launch startups have emerged in recent years to help meet growing demand from satellite providers, biotech companies and others looking to send payload to space. One such startup is Germany’s Isar Aerospace Technologies, which is focused on building orbital launch vehicles designed to carry up to 1,000 kilograms to low Earth orbit.

The startup made headlines last December – including here at TechCrunch – for scoring a $91 million Series B, the largest round to date in the European space launch scene. Now the company says it has raised an additional $75 million in a Series B extension, bringing the total round to over $165 million.

The extension round was led by HV Capital, Porsche SE and banking group Lombard Odier. Existing investors Earlybird Venture Capital, Lakestar, Vsquared Ventures, Apeiron Investment Group and UVC Partners also participated, with Earlybird subscribing the largest amount. Earlybird and Airbus Ventures led Isar’s $17 million Series A in December 2019.

Participation by Porsche SE – a major shareholder of Volkswagen – is particularly interesting as it signals growing interest from established mobility investors in connectivity and space-enabled technologies.

“As an investor focusing on mobility and industrial technology, we are convinced that cost-effective and flexible access to space will be a key enabler for innovations in traditional industries as well as for new and disruptive technologies and business models,” Porsche SE executive board member Lutz Meschke said in a statement. “Therefore, we are excited to back Isar Aerospace on its way to become the leading European small-launcher and to meet the increasing appetite for launch services.”

The funding will likely provide a significant boost for continued development and manufacturing as the company nears its planned first test flight in 2022.

Isar began production of its inaugural launch vehicle, the Spectrum rocket, this year. Spectrum is a two-stage vehicle that’s designed for lightweight delivery to low Earth orbit. The idea is to create a launcher that can move quickly and at a low cost to small satellite companies. Isar is aiming to conduct engine tests in Kiruna, Sweden, and launch operations in nearby Andøya, Norway, thanks to a 20-year agreement with Andøya Space for exclusive access to one of its launch pads. Notably, Isar has already secured its first paying customer, Airbus Defence and Space, and said in a statement that it plans on announcing more contracts soon.

The startup was spun out of Munich Technical University, where co-founders Daniel Metzler, Josef Fleischmann and Markus Brandl were studying engineering. While many of the new wave of launch companies are based in the United States, Isar is leading a parallel wave in Germany.

“A competitive and diverse space ecosystem will be crucial for humanity in the decades to come,” Isar CEO Daniel Metzler said in a statement. “We are convinced that European cooperation, a level-playing field for all players, and a demand-driven approach will provide customers with access to different and internationally competitive launch capabilities for a broad spectrum of payloads. The US has shown that cornerstone contracts based on demand – instead of political parameters – are preparing the ground for innovation and growth in the space sector.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/07/28/launch-vehicle-startup-isar-aerospace-lands-an-additional-75m-in-funding/

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Aerospace

Launch vehicle startup Isar Aerospace lands an additional $75M in funding

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A slew of launch startups have emerged in recent years to help meet growing demand from satellite providers, biotech companies and others looking to send payload to space. One such startup is Germany’s Isar Aerospace Technologies, which is focused on building orbital launch vehicles designed to carry up to 1,000 kilograms to low Earth orbit.

The startup made headlines last December – including here at TechCrunch – for scoring a $91 million Series B, the largest round to date in the European space launch scene. Now the company says it has raised an additional $75 million in a Series B extension, bringing the total round to over $165 million.

The extension round was led by HV Capital, Porsche SE and banking group Lombard Odier. Existing investors Earlybird Venture Capital, Lakestar, Vsquared Ventures, Apeiron Investment Group and UVC Partners also participated, with Earlybird subscribing the largest amount. Earlybird and Airbus Ventures led Isar’s $17 million Series A in December 2019.

Participation by Porsche SE – a major shareholder of Volkswagen – is particularly interesting as it signals growing interest from established mobility investors in connectivity and space-enabled technologies.

“As an investor focusing on mobility and industrial technology, we are convinced that cost-effective and flexible access to space will be a key enabler for innovations in traditional industries as well as for new and disruptive technologies and business models,” Porsche SE executive board member Lutz Meschke said in a statement. “Therefore, we are excited to back Isar Aerospace on its way to become the leading European small-launcher and to meet the increasing appetite for launch services.”

The funding will likely provide a significant boost for continued development and manufacturing as the company nears its planned first test flight in 2022.

Isar began production of its inaugural launch vehicle, the Spectrum rocket, this year. Spectrum is a two-stage vehicle that’s designed for lightweight delivery to low Earth orbit. The idea is to create a launcher that can move quickly and at a low cost to small satellite companies. Isar is aiming to conduct engine tests in Kiruna, Sweden, and launch operations in nearby Andøya, Norway, thanks to a 20-year agreement with Andøya Space for exclusive access to one of its launch pads. Notably, Isar has already secured its first paying customer, Airbus Defence and Space, and said in a statement that it plans on announcing more contracts soon.

The startup was spun out of Munich Technical University, where co-founders Daniel Metzler, Josef Fleischmann and Markus Brandl were studying engineering. While many of the new wave of launch companies are based in the United States, Isar is leading a parallel wave in Germany.

“A competitive and diverse space ecosystem will be crucial for humanity in the decades to come,” Isar CEO Daniel Metzler said in a statement. “We are convinced that European cooperation, a level-playing field for all players, and a demand-driven approach will provide customers with access to different and internationally competitive launch capabilities for a broad spectrum of payloads. The US has shown that cornerstone contracts based on demand – instead of political parameters – are preparing the ground for innovation and growth in the space sector.”

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/07/28/launch-vehicle-startup-isar-aerospace-lands-an-additional-75m-in-funding/

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Aerospace

India Security Forces will Soon get DRDO’s Anti-drone Technology

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Given the increasing threat of drone attacks in the country, the Defence Ministry is seriously considering to buy anti-drone technology from abroad as well as taking indigenously manufactured technology. Sources say that soon a proposal can be sent to the Defense Acquisition Council for the purchase of DRDO’s technology in this context. Let us inform you that DRDO has developed anti-drone technology, which has also been used in VIP security on several occasions which has been confirmed by the sources.

After the drone attack on the Jammu Air Force station some time back, efforts have intensified to acquire anti-drone technology from the three armies, central security forces, and state police agencies. Efforts are also underway for the military to buy Israel’s anti-drone technology, which consists of a device that can be fitted onto a rifle and aimed at flying drones.

DRDO’s technology
DRDO’s anti-drone technology is far more effective. Through this, the frequency of the drone can be jammed within a radius of three to four kilometers and it can be destroyed by attacking with a laser weapon. It was also deployed in the security of the Red Fort on August 15 last year. Recently the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to deploy it in Tirumala temple.

DRDO gave a presentation
According to sources, in the meantime, presentations of anti-drone technology have been given to the Indian army and security forces by DRDO in several phases. It is reported that positive feedback has been received from the armed forces. Hence this technology can be procured for deployment in some sensitive locations.

Built-in partnership with our sources if the security has decided to purchase anti-drone technology of DRDO, its creation of strategic partnerships may be supported by the private sector. and this will make it possible to manufacture a large number of Anti-drones in less time.

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Source: https://www.eletimes.com/india-security-forces-will-soon-get-drdos-anti-drone-technology

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Isar Aerospace raises $75 million

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WASHINGTON — Isar Aerospace, a German small launch vehicle company, has raised an additional $75 million that will allow the company to expand its manufacturing and launch capabilities.

The company announced July 29 that it added $75 million to a Series B round it raised in December 2020. The new funding brings the size of that round to more than $165 million, with a total raised to date of more than $180 million.

HV Capital, Porsche Automobil Holding SE and banking group Lombard Odier led the extension of the Series B round. Existing investors Earlybird Venture Capital, Lakestar, Vsquared Ventures, Apeiron Investment Group and UVC Partners also participated in the round.

With the original Series B round, Isar said it had enough funding to take the company through the first launch of its Spectrum small launch vehicle. The additional funding, executives said, will allow it to build out manufacturing and launch infrastructure needed for later growth.

“Now we want to expand our launch capabilities, our manufacturing and production capabilities,” Stella Guillen, chief commercial officer of Isar, said in an interview. The company also plans to use some of the funding to work on reusability. The company, which currently has more than 180 employees, expects to grow to more than 200 by the end of the year.

Spectrum, the rocket Isar is developing, is a two-stage vehicle designed to place up to 1,000 kilograms into low Earth orbit. The vehicle is powered by Aquila engines that the company is also building.

Guillen said the company is preparing to start tests of the full Aquila engine soon on a test stand in Kiruna, Sweden. Isar is also working on a launch site in Norway, having signed an agreement in April with Andøya Space for exclusive use of a pad at a new site under development by the state-owned launch site operator.

A first launch of Spectrum from Andøya is expected in the second half of 2022, she said. The company expects to conduct three to four launches in 2023, with a long-term goal of about 10 launches per year. While Andøya is well-suited for launches to sun-synchronous orbits, Isar is considering alternative launch sites, such as French Guiana, for missions to lower inclination orbits.

Isar has won launch contracts from Airbus Defence and Space as well as the German space agency DLR, the latter through a competition sponsored by the European Space Agency where Isar beat out Rocket Factory Augsburg and HyImpulse Technologies, two other German small launch vehicle startups. Guillen said the Isar has also signed other customers it has not yet announced.

The backing of ESA and DLR has been particularly important for Isar. “We’re working with them hand-in-hand” on vehicle requirements, Guillen said. “They are supporting us in terms of bringing customers in.”

While Isar is interested in European government and commercial customers, its ambitions extend beyond the continent. “Obviously, Europe is a big market for us, but we see the growth potential in Asia and in the U.S. as well,” she said. “I think we are really well positioned to penetrate the market.”

Isar has already unlocked one challenge as a European space startup: raising money. The company claims the total funding it has raised is the most by any space startup in Europe, after years of complaints by entrepreneurs that European investors were less willing to invest in the industry than their American counterparts.

“As an investor focusing on mobility and industrial technology, we are convinced that cost-effective and flexible access to space will be a key enabler for innovations in traditional industries as well as for new and disruptive technologies and business models,” Lutz Meschke, a member of the executive board of Porsche SE and an investor in Isar, said in a statement. “The technological progress and the development speed of the whole organization are very impressive, and we look forward to support Isar Aerospace with its ambitious growth plans.”

“Isar has shown that it has a good business plan and that they can tell the story of how space can be a trillion-dollar economy by 2040,” Guillen said. “This is a huge sign that European investors are waking up to the benefits of space.”


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Source: https://spacenews.com/isar-aerospace-raises-75-million/

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