Satellite Vu raised $15.8 million for thermal satellite constellation

Science

ST LOUIS — British Earth observation startup Satellite Vu raised 12.7 million British pounds ($15.8 million) for its thermal-imaging satellite constellation.

Molten Ventures, an existing Satellite Vu investor, led the Series A-2 investment round announced May 24. Other previous Satellite Vu investors participated including Seraphim Space Investment Trust, A/O Proptech, Lockheed Martin, Ridgeline Ventures, Earth Sciences Foundation and Stellar Ventures.

Satellite Vu plans to launch its first satellite in June on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare flight.

“We wanted to get this funding round done before launch,” Anthony Baker, Satellite Vu founder and CEO, told SpaceNews. “If we have a successful launch in June or not, we have enough runway, 12 months, to keep going.”

If the launch is successful Satellite Vu is likely raise money for a Series B round later this year for construction of additional satellites.  

Satellite Vu was founded in 2016 to gather high-resolution thermal imagery from space. To date, 66 companies have committed 128 million pounds to Satellite Vu’s Early Access Programme (EAP). EAP customers can task Satellite Vu’s airborne sensor and obtain discounts on satellite imagery orders.

“We are proud to have such meaningful support from our existing investors,” Camilla Taylor, Satellite Vu chief financial officer, said in a statement. “It shows that we are on the right track, both to building an economically sustainable business and tackling the climate crisis.”

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. is building Satellite Vu’s first two 160-kilogram satellites to gather imagery with a resolution of 3.5 meters per pixel. With a planned constellation of eight satellites, Satellite Vu will be able to revisit sites multiple times per day, Baker said.

Energy and Environmental Applications

Satelilte Vu’s thermal imagery has many potential applications. Defense and intelligence agencies already are familiar with thermal data “they just don’t have a commercial source of imagery which they can share with allies,” Baker said.

Thermal imagery reveals industrial activity and has important climate applications, showing, for example, “which buildings are losing heat and need to be retrofitted,” Baker said.

Investor Confidence

Molten Ventures led Satellite Vu’s latest funding round because the company’s “unique technology tackles key climate issues, and we’re impressed with their commercial progress,” George Chalmers, head of Molton Ventures Climate-Tech, said in a statement. “Their $160 million in early commitments is a stellar model of pre-launch sales for deep-tech companies, which other climate-tech firms could emulate.”

Patrick McCall, Seraphim Space venture partner, said in a statement, “Satellite Vu stands out as a trailblazing commercial enterprise at the forefront of harnessing space and data to” address climate change.

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