Harwell-based startup secures seed funding to develop revolutionary plasma thruster


A Harwell Campus-based start-up has closed a £1.4 million seed funding round to help the development of its revolutionary plasma thruster for the new space age.

Magdrive’s investment round was led by Founders Fund, backed by Luminous Ventures, 7percent Ventures and Entrepreneur First.

Magdrive, based at the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre at Harwell, says its ultra-efficient electric system with an unparalleled power-to-mass ratio delivers high thrusts for all satellite manoeuvres and missions. It uses a high-density propellant that burns 100 times hotter than a rocket

​The plasma is contained by magnetic fields, reducing mass and launch costs and enables entirely new space missions and business models

The founders, Dr Thomas Clayson  a Plasma Physicist and Pulsed Power Engineer, and Mark Stokes, a Mechanical and Machine Learning Engineer, say the Magdrive will enable entirely new space missions and business models.

According to online tech news service, TechCrunch, if it works, the Magdrive engine could make spacecraft go faster for longer which then could open up the industry to new space missions, such as a satellite that can make multiple, fast manoeuvres without conserving fuel.