Italian rocket engine maker Avio SpA has debuted shares on the Borsa Italiana stock exchange in Milan. The public offering occurred on April 10, 2017. Avio is listed in the STAR segment of the Italian stock exchange, which is dedicated to companies with market capitalization between EUR40 million and EUR1 billion ($42.4 million to $1.1 billion).

Vega VV05 carrying Sentinel-2A into Orbit
Vega VV05 carrying Sentinel-2A into Orbit – ESA/M. Pedoussaut, 2015

The public offering follows a merger between Avio and with an investment and acquisition vehicle called SPACE2. At the same time, another investment firm, Cinven Ltd has exited Avio, leaving SPACE2 and Leonardo SpA as the primary shareholders.

Avio shares closed at EUR13.4 ($14.2), a 6.6 percent increase over initial pricing. Avio raised EUR65 million ($69 million) in net proceeds from the offering.

Avio is a major player in Europe’s rocket market. The company has a major share in the production of the solid rocket motor for Ariane 5, which carries 240 tons of solid propellant. The two boosters of Ariane 5 launcher deliver 90 percent of the thrust to the launcher at take-off for 130 seconds. Both separate from the central body of the launcher at a height of 60 km.

However, Avio’s main contribution to the space industry is the Vega lightweight launch vehicle. Avio owns 70 percent of Vega prime contractor ELV SpA. Avio also produces the P80, Zefiro 23, and Zefiro 9 engines.

Vega Launches

The Vega has launched nine times since its debut in February 2012. It has primarily carried European civil government satellites. However, Avio hopes to compete to carry small commercial satellites into orbit. The rising popularity of SmallSats has increased demand for launch services to carry them into orbit.

While demand is increasing for small satellite launch services, the market is becoming increasingly competitive. Companies like SpaceX carry SmallSats into orbit as secondary payloads, while startups like Virgin Orbit and Rocket Lab are designing dedicated small satellite launch vehicles. India’s PSLV has also emerged as a strong competitor in the market. Vega will need to deal with all of these competitors, which have the advantage of efficient supply chains.

Still, Avio hopes that the capital it raised on Monday will help it increase marketshare.