Engineers Behind SpaceX Merlin Engine Are Now Getting Fundings From Billionaires For Their Startup Impulse Space Agency

Abdul Ghani

The developer of the SpaceX Merlin engines has founded his own space startup. Now it's getting multi-million dollar funding. The space startup Impulse Space was only founded in September 2021 and is now being funded by investor Peter Thiel and his venture capital firm Founders Fund. According to its own statements, the start-up wants to use the 20 million US dollars (equivalent to around 18.1 million euros) to try to offer a "flexible and inexpensive way of accessing any orbit" in the inner solar system.
Impulse Space wants to serve the last mile for spacecraft launched into orbit.Image by Impulse Space Creative Commons

Initially, the company wants to focus on low earth orbit, LEO. According to Impulse Space, they first want to transport satellites into space in order to then place them in an optimal orbit.

In addition, maintenance of satellites, the lifting of space stations, and the removal of space debris are to be included in the space company's portfolio. It remains to be seen whether the goals can be met. After all, the start-up is still at the very beginning of its development, and the European space agency ESA has put the disposal of space debris high on its agenda. Competition is therefore present on many levels.

From SpaceX employee to space entrepreneur

The head behind the company speaks for the fact that at least some of the goals can be achieved. Impulse Space was founded by Tom Mueller, developer of the Merlin and Kestrel rocket engines for private space company SpaceX. For example, the Merlin engines form the first stage of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle. Mueller also developed the Merlin engines, optimized for the vacuum in space.

In 2002 he was poached by Elon Musk, who was just starting SpaceX. Since 2014, Mueller has gradually withdrawn from the company and ended his work completely at the end of 2020 - but thanked Musk in a tweet for the journey on which he was allowed to accompany SpaceX.

Mueller has also appointed Barry Matsumori to the leadership team. Matsumori has previously served as senior vice president of business development and advanced concepts at Virgin Galactic and senior vice president of sales and business development at SpaceX.

Leading provider for space transport?

According to Mueller, companies like SpaceX have pushed the high launch costs down, making space more dynamic. But Mueller is clear that Space Impulse wants to "ultimately be the leader in space transportation."

However, the entrepreneur does not want to stop at LEO. With his startup, he wants to make "geostationary earth orbit (GEO), the moon and beyond" usable in the long term. In addition, the provision of landing vehicles for the moon, missions to other planets, and access to asteroid mining should also be possible. In addition, fuel depots are to be created in space - similar to what SpaceX intends to do with the refueling of its Starship HLS - the Human Landing System - for the moon.

Those are big goals for a company that's only been on the market for a few months. But even Elon Musk had initially taken nobody seriously. At least Mueller can build rocket engines. So it remains to be seen which of his goals Mueller can actually achieve.

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Member Of Freelancers Union (USA), Freelance Writer!, and Digital Creator. Ghani Mengal is an enthusiast Freelance blogger and digital marketer. His content has been published and featured on many popular blogs, websites, and publications. Including TeelFeed,, Data-Driven Investor, TextSniper, Scientific Publication The Predict, The Startup, The Ascent, Heart Affairs, Illumination, And The List goes on.


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