Hypersonic Transport Startup Venus Aerospace Lands $20M in VC

The Venus Aerospace team pictured at Houston Spaceport.
Credit: Venus Aerospace

Houston-based hypersonic transporter startup Venus Aerospace announced April 5 it raised $20 million in Series A venture capital from Prime Movers Lab.

The funds will be siphoned into development of the three critical technologies underlying its business case: a new rocket engine, the aircraft shape and leading-edge cooling. 

“These recent advances in technology finally enable a spaceplane, a vehicle long imagined, but only now possible,” said Andrew Duggleby, CTO and cofounder. “We will use this round of funding to get into flight testing and engine testing at Spaceport Houston.”

To date, the two-year-old startup has now landed $33 million, including $3 million unveiled a year ago. There also has been $1 million in nondilutive government funding.

Beyond Prime Movers, other backers included Draper Associates, Boost, Saturn 5, Seraph Group, Cantos, The Helm and Tamarack Global. All, including Prime, were previous investors.

Venus envisages its Mach 12 to 15 hypersonic aircraft as tenants of the Houston Spaceport, located on the city’s 2,400-acre Ellington Airport. Ellington, whose grounds are shared with NASA and three branches of the military, was granted a commercial spaceport license by the FAA in 2015 for runway-based space operations in a large urban area, including functioning as an incubator for aerospace innovation.

When the seed round was announced a year ago, Duggleby told Aviation Week that the first flight would happen around 2028. The company’s headcount was then eight, but in the latest announcement Venus said it had grown to 40 employees.

Michael Bruno

Based in Washington, Michael Bruno is Aviation Week Network’s Executive Editor for Business. He oversees coverage of aviation, aerospace and defense businesses, supply chains and related issues.