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Good morning. We’re still coping with FOMO and not being in Dubai for the 72nd International Astronautical Congress (IAC). We’ll get ’em next time at #73 in Paris.

Today’s newsletter:
🛰️ Infrared satellites
🤝 Verizon, Kuiper
📝 Term sheet

Sending Thermometers to Space

Photo: Satellite Vu

Last week, London startup Satellite Vu closed a £15 million ($20.7 million) Series A, led by Seraphim. Satellite Vu, which raised a ~$5 million seed earlier this year, now has enough capital to finance production of its first satellite. 

  • Also in the Series A: Draper Esprit, A/O PropTech, Ridgeline Ventures, Earth Science Foundation, E2MC Ventures, and Stellar Solutions/Ford Family Trust.

“This enables us to go to space, which is super exciting,” CEO Anthony Baker told Payload. “It will pay for the first satellite and rocket, and give us some runway.” Some back-of-the-napkin math suggests that each satellite will set the company back ~$15 million.

Satellite Vu’s north star: Measuring heat signatures of buildings with thermal infrared sensors. Think night vision goggles for satellites, but the goggles also work in the daytime. Satellite Vu’s infrared spacecraft will be capable of 10–20 revisits a day. Baker said his company is currently testing its sensor on an aircraft and downgrading “aircraft imagery to look like pseudo-satellite imagery.” 

Use cases: Satellite-gathered thermal data could help round out one’s understanding of economic activity at a factory, the occupancy level of a building, or energy inefficiencies at installations around the world. 

  1. Satellite Vu is focused on selling to ESG funds, companies, and governments. “That’s where our data is going to have the most value,” Baker said.  
  2. The company is developing back-end analytics software to parse through infrared data and send insights/reports to end users.
  3. It will also sell raw information to satellite data platforms…or, say, Fortune 500 energy firms with large in-house analytics departments. 

Roadmap: The first night vision craft is headed to polar orbit in Q4 2022. Satellite Vu plans to soon raise a Series B, which will finance the production and launch of a three-satellite batch into a similar orbit as Starlink. Satellite Vu’s constellation will concentrate on the most industrious, populous parts of the planet. 

In the interim, Satellite Vu is headed to COP26, the UN climate conference that kicks off Sunday in Scotland. Monitoring a changing planet in a new way may just be Satellite Vu’s competitive edge: “Everyone is interested in energy efficiency, net zero, and carbon emissions,” per Baker.

Kuiper 🤝 Verizon

Graphic: Amazon

ICYMI: Verizon is looking to low-Earth orbit (LEO). 

The US telecom announced a connectivity partnership yesterday with Amazon’s Project Kuiper. Verizon will use Amazon satellites to extend service to customers who can’t access the latest and greatest service (or anything) from existing networks. Amazon shares closed up 1.86% yesterday; Verizon was up 0.95%. 

Kuiper 101: It’s a planned LEO broadband satellite constellation. Amazon intends to spend $10B+ to launch 3,236 internet-beaming satellites. While Kuiper has yet to launch a satellite, the constellation received FCC approval in July 2020. 

  • Starlink could be described as a competing LEO constellation. But…SpaceX has quite the head start, with 1,700+ satellites in orbit and a public beta. 

Why is Verizon interested? For cellular backhaul to areas underserved by its terrestrial 4G/LTE and 5G networks. In predominantly rural areas, the economics of laying fiber or building base stations don’t shake out. Consequently, internet service providers and telcos tend not to invest in expanding connectivity to sparsely populated regions (unless it is subsidized). 

“There are billions of people without reliable broadband access, and no single company will close the digital divide on its own,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said in a press release.


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In Other News

  • SpaceX updated Dragon’s toilet for the Crew-3 mission. 
  • Egypt, Kenya, and Uganda will send the “ClimCam” payload to the International Space Station (ISS) for a year, as the winners of an Airbus- and UN-sponsored program.
  • Blue Origin SVP Brent Sherwood tells The National that “it’s very promising to think about areas” in the UAE desert for a new spaceport. 
  • Globalstar has shipped 2,000+ satellite-managed SmartOneC tracking devices to maritime customers. 
  • Elon Musk’s net worth swelled to nearly $289 billion this week. Almost a third of the way to becoming the world’s first trillionaire
  • Airbus, Air Liquide, and ispace Europe formed EURO2MOON, a nonprofit consortium dedicated to responsible lunar resource usage. 
  • Planet CEO Will Marshall is hosting a Reddit AMA at 1 PM EST.

The Term Sheet

  • ABL Space Systems, a provider of launch services, raised $200 million of a Series B-1 extension round at a $2.4 billion valuation in a deal led by T. Rowe Price.
  • Hedron raised $17.8 million of Series A funding from Fine Structure VenturesLockheed Martin VenturesRepublic CapitalExplorer 1 FundSpace Capital, and others. But you probably already know that after reading Tuesday’s newsletter. 
  • Fixposition, a developer of sensors for high-precision satellite positioning, raised $9.56 million of seed funding led by True Ventures.
  • Benchmark Space Systems, a developer of a satellite propulsion technology, raised $7.44 million of venture funding from undisclosed investors.
  • Infostellar, a developer of a cloud-based satellite antenna sharing platform, raised JPY 700 million ($6.16 million) of Series B funding from MitsubishiItochu, and Tokyo Boeki
  • Dhruva Space, a developer of small satellite systems, raised INR 220 million ($2.94 million) of venture funding led by Blue Ashva Capital and Indian Angel Network.
  • Creotech Instruments, a provider of advanced electronics systems for aerospace applications, raised PLN 11.3 million ($2.84 million) in an IPO (WAR: CRI) on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

The View from Florida

Photo: SpaceX

Godspeed, Crew-3!