"Half a century ago, the photograph Earthrise gave humanity a breakthrough view of our planet,” said Royan. “By helping partners to easily put advanced hardware in the sky and bring pixels back to Earth, and by making space data intuitive to access, Spaceflight has built a breakthrough platform that will take our worldview to the next level.
Spaceflight Industries, a next-generation space company dedicated to democratizing access to space, today announced it has secured $18 million of Series B financing led by technology growth investor Mithril Capital Management of San Francisco, in a round that is expected to raise up to $25 million. The company also announced it has acquired Herndon, Virginia-based OpenWhere, Inc. to further enhance and execute on its BlackSky geospatial data platform for satellite imagery.
Previous investors in Spaceflight Industries, including RRE Venture Capital, Vulcan Capital and Razor’s Edge Ventures, all reinvested in the round, bringing the company’s total funding to $53.5 million. As part of the financing, Ajay Royan, co-founder and managing general partner of Mithril, has joined the Spaceflight Industries Board of Directors.
"Half a century ago, the photograph Earthrise gave humanity a breakthrough view of our planet,” said Royan. “By helping partners to easily put advanced hardware in the sky and bring pixels back to Earth, and by making space data intuitive to access, Spaceflight has built a breakthrough platform that will take our worldview to the next level. The company doesn’t just make space technology, it makes space technology efficient and easy to use. Its space-as-a-service infrastructure lowers the activation energy for all space innovators, from launch to analysis, making Spaceflight the lynchpin of the emerging space ecosystem."
Jason Andrews, CEO of Spaceflight Industries, added, “We’re fortunate to work with such a prestigious venture team like Mithril that operates on the frontiers of innovation, while helping to solve important real world problems. The additional financing will help us execute on additional strategic initiatives, including this acquisition of OpenWhere. Not only does it further differentiate BlackSky, it vastly expands the community of who can benefit from monitoring our planet in near real time to all commercial industries, academics, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. We welcome them all to join the growing network on the platform.”
Initially launched in June 2015, the BlackSky geospatial data platform will deliver near real-time images of the planet to customers at a price unmatched in the industry. With a planned constellation of 60 imaging satellites orbiting the Earth, BlackSky has the ability to pass over key zones hourly – not daily or weekly – making the images fresher to provide a more comprehensive story. BlackSky is on track to deploy six satellites by 2017 and complete the 60-satellite imaging constellation by 2020. The first two Pathfinder satellites will launch this year as key demonstration models for the platform.
“One of our core value propositions is the ease of use of the BlackSky platform and this is where OpenWhere shines,” said Andrews. “Customers are looking for a modern and intuitive system that they can operate with ease to receive high-quality images, and OpenWhere’s platform offers a compelling user experience that reimagines interaction with satellite imaging. We’re thrilled to have the entire team’s expertise, talent and insight on board to help us achieve our very aggressive goals.”
In April, BlackSky announced an agreement with the United Nations to leverage the information collected from satellite images to enhance global decision making and support country-level initiatives. Together, the partnership teams United Nations Institute for Training and Research and BlackSky will explore how imaging can be applied to humanitarian relief, human security, climate change adaptation, sustainable water management, territorial management, high priority peace-keeping missions, monitoring of illegal maritime activity, and more.
Furthermore, Spaceflight is the first launch services provider to be awarded a GSA Schedule Contract which enables federal agencies to quickly and easily secure small satellite launch contracts completely online at a pre-negotiated fixed rate. This in turn reduces administrative costs and overhead and potentially increases how frequently the agencies access space.