Space tech is hard. And while it itself is understatement, space-tech is even harder to build when there is a limitation on resources and when there is very few funders out there ready to take on a risk of investing in technology such as Space. But Pixxel, the Indian satellite startup that has been working in stealth for a while, has defied all odds to come out shining, with a new $25 Million Series A round.
Lets get the details of this new round out of our way first. Series A was led by Radical Ventures, with participation from Jordan Noone, Seraphim Space Investment Trust Plc, Lightspeed Partners, Blume Ventures, and Sparta LLC.
Pixxel is aiming to revolutionise the orbital imagery sector — both scientifically and business-wise. The company has developed a much more inexpensive way to beam images of Earth from low earth orbit using hyperspectral imagery. This is an entirely new range of high resolution dataset, which will provide global coverage every 24 hours enabling organizations around the globe to detect, monitor and predict global phenomena in near real time.
Hyperspectral imaging (HSI) analyses a wide spectrum of light instead of just assigning primary colours (red, green, blue) to each pixel. The light striking each pixel is broken down into many different spectral bands in order to provide more information on what is imaged.
The collected spectra are used to form an image in a way that each image pixel includes a complete spectrum.
Pixxel’s low-cost, high-resolution hyperspectral cameras will be able to provide analytics ready data at a scale the market has never seen. The Pixxel data will service existing use-cases in earth observation but the hyperspectral content will open an entirely new sets of applications across Climate Change, Agri, ESG, Defense and commodities at a global scale.
To understand how difficult it is to design, build and launch hyperspectral imagery satellites, there are just around 25 of them in space right now and most of them are Chinese and nearly all of them are funded by governments. In contrast, there are over 400 satellites that provide an RGB imagery. But those images need to be further processed to predict any sort of geospatial patterns on earth, something that Pixxel’s hyperspectral satellite constellation will be able to do.
The constellation in itself isn’t too big on numbers, there are 6 satellites in total with three launching later this year and rest next year. But Pixxel claims to already have a huge list of clientele that has pre-ordered the data it plans to beam back. These companies tend to be in the agriculture, mining, and oil and gas industries — where regular surveys of large tracts of land are important to ongoing operations, according to Awais Ahmed’s interview to TechCrunch.
The satellite imaging data and data-services market is large and expected to be ~$8B by 2025. Hyperspectral is an emerging segment within earth observation and is expected to further expand the market to $15-20B in the next 10 years.