Satellites have emerged as a vital means, and in some cases the sole means, to facilitate communication and collect data from specific global locations. This influential position offers both heroic potential and the risk of misuse, all while contributing to the escalating issue of space debris.

UK-based startup Open Cosmos, founded by three aerospace engineers from Spain, has secured $50 million in funding. The company is focused on developing “sustainable” low-earth orbit satellites and a comprehensive data management system for the information gathered by these satellites. Open Cosmos has created a platform that enables multiple organizations to utilize single satellites or more commonly, a constellation of satellites. These organizations can also opt to share the data they acquire.

Open Cosmos, established in 2015, gained industry attention by successfully launching its first LEO (low-earth orbit) satellite on a limited budget—a noteworthy achievement considering the significant capital and operational expenses typically associated with aerospace projects. Today, the company collaborates with major space agencies, including Amazon’s AWS, as well as engineering, systems, and security firm RHEA Group, and agribusiness enterprises like Lacuna Space.

The primary focus of Open Cosmos is on energy and climate monitoring, according to CEO Rafel Jorda Siquier, who stated, “We only provide to those who want to be good actors in those domains.” Importantly, Open Cosmos’ satellites naturally degrade and disintegrate upon re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, leaving no space debris.

This funding round is noteworthy not only for its investors but also in the context of startup investments. Startup funding remains restricted, particularly in Europe where Q2 investments in startups were half of the previous year’s figures. Artificial intelligence remains a prominent and sought-after category, but the space tech sector has had a mixed experience, with funding levels increasing in the first half of 2023 compared to the latter half of 2022, partly due to founders postponing fundraising activities in 2022. Open Cosmos’ $50 million investment marks a significant leap for the startup, exceeding seven times the total amount it had previously raised.

The company has been operationally profitable (Ebitda positive) since 2020, providing a perception of lower risk for investors despite its hardware-focused nature. Open Cosmos’ current market focus revolves around sustainability, specifically in areas such as climate and agriculture. However, this does not rule out potential future endeavors and partnerships, especially considering the geopolitical significance of sustainability and resource independence.

The market for earth orbit data is expected to reach $11.3 billion by 2031, with applications ranging from monitoring illicit deforestation projects to tracking greenhouse gas emissions, polar ice cap changes, sea levels, and ocean currents. Satellites also play a vital role in disaster relief efforts. Open Cosmos is uniquely positioned to provide multi-sensor space data at an affordable cost and offers an appstore-like analytics platform.

Investors, including impact-focused backers like ETF Partners, Trill Impact, and A&G, as well as strategics like Accenture Ventures and Banco Santander/InnoEnergy Climate Tech Fund, recognize Open Cosmos’ potential in the space technology sector. The startup’s financial stability and technology capabilities make it a promising leader in this rapidly evolving industry, with the opportunity to contribute to the global transition towards a more sustainable future.

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