Italian rocket maker Avio goes public

Italian rocket manufacturer Avio SpA has this week gone public with a listing on the Milan stock exchange.

Avio manufactures the Vega rocket (pictured). Image courtesy of Avio.
Avio manufactures the Vega rocket (pictured). Image courtesy of Avio.

In doing so, the company becomes the first ever exclusively space-focussed company to list themselves on the public market.

By all accounts, Avio has had a very successful IPO, with the company’s stock price increasing more than 20% following its initial listing.

Avio believes the company’s strong stock price showing reflects the growing need for satellite launches, as mobile communications become ever more widespread.

The move follows Avio spinning off its aerospace division in 2013 to GE Aviation, who renamed this section of the company into Avio Aerospace.

Since this spin-off, the remainder of Avio has dedicated its time to building rockets designed to launch satellites into orbit.

They are best known for the Vega rocket, which was first flown in 2012, and since then has flown 9 missions with a perfect success record.

Vega itself is optimized for the launching of small satellites and has launched a number of earth observation satellites for a diverse range of clients.

As well the company has been working with Arianespace to provide systems for a several of its rockets including the Ariane IV and Ariane V.

Into the future, this collaboration will likely continue, with the company reportedly in line to produce components for Arianespace’s next-generation Ariane VI rocket.

A European SpaceX?

Avio has been often compared to US private spaceflight company SpaceX in the media due to their use of innovative new space technology, however, this may not be an apt comparison.

Last month’s launch by SpaceX of a reused rocket first stage paves the way for the company to massively lower costs and undercut all current competitors.

While the Ariane VI will be partially reusable, this design is still far from completion, meaning that SpaceX (and other fast-moving companies like Blue Origin) could take control of the space launch market before Avio and Arianespace have the opportunity to catch up.