Entrepreneur Daniel Metzler

“We are a space taxi service”

TUM Alumni Daniel Metzler is making space more accessible. He has developed a small rocket that allows small satellites to be transported into orbit at low cost.

“In a way, we are a transport service provider”, says TUM Alumni Daniel Metzler. “Just like a space taxi service.” Together with his team, he developed a small launch vehicle that transports small satellites and satellite constellations into space. “The launch vehicle ensures that the satellites are accelerated to almost 28,000 kilometers per hour so that they remain in orbit”, Metzler explains. What is special about it: this launch vehicle is smaller and less expensive than others. An asset that is an advantage for everyone, Daniel Metzler believes.

To Everyone’s Benefit

Because his launch vehicle takes payloads into space at a lower cost, satellite systems would become overall more affordable. Instead of individual, expensive projects, entire satellite systems can now be deployed into space. “And they are to everyone’s benefit”, Metzler says. “Many people think that space travel is simply about exploring the moon and Mars. The primary purpose however is to improve life on Earth.”

Without satellites we would not know that the sea levels are rising.

Satellites are playing a major role in a number of areas: in using GPS and Galileo, Internet via satellite, gathering data to determine measures for climate protection or to harvest grain fields. “Without satellites, we would not know that the sea levels are rising a little bit every year”, Daniel Metzler explains.

Industry and the European Space Agency (ESA) showed interest in this new launch vehicle early on: “Even before the company was officially founded, we were accepted into the Business Incubation Center of the European Space Agency ESA”, Metzler recalls. Here, the rocket engineers were provided with their first own office, as well as funding for their work. This allowed them to build and test the first prototypes for engine components.

With TUM Support

Together with Josef Fleischmann and Markus Brandl, Daniel Metzler launched the start-up Isar Aerospace in 2018. TUM played a major role in the founding and the subsequent development of the company. The fact that, for example, inquiries from the industry came in who expressed an interest in buying the rocket engines was not least due to the good reputation of TUM, Metzler believes: “After all, who would otherwise want to buy rocket engines from students?”

In addition to the extensive contacts it has in industry and politics, the start-up also benefited from UnternehmerTUM’s venture capital partners who invested in Metzler’s idea.

The Beginnings

Metzler already had the opportunity to participate in the NASA/DLR Aircraft Design Challenge with two fellow students as part of a student project under Professor Mirko Hornung, which he won. “In the end we were allowed to present our aircraft concept to NASA, which definitively was a stand out experience in my time at university.” Between 2016 and 2018 he took part in the student group WARR (Wissenschaftliche Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Raketentechnik und Raumfahrt), where he met his two co-founders, as well as the core team of Isar Aerospace. In 2017 the first ideas for a technology spin-off at TUM in the field of rocket science emerged from this group. “Without the right setting, none of what is happening today would have been possible”, Metzler states.

Today the Isar Aerospace team consists of more than 100 talents. Recently, the entrepreneurs opened their new production facilities in Ottobrunn, in the immediate vicinity of other aerospace start-ups and well-established companies.