In a busy financial day, Swiss-based Astrocast has closed a $9.2 million (9M CHF) Series A round of funding from new and existing investors while Fleet Space Technologies announced it has raised $7.35 million in its latest fundraising activities.
Astrocast has raised a total of $16.8 million so far and will use the fresh capital to accelerate production of Internet of Things (IoT) modules and to begin its deployment and commercial operations of its Low Earth Orbit (LEO) IoT network. In conjunction with the Series A close, it also announced a $500,000 loan from the Foundation for Technological Innovation, a Swiss startup investment entity.
“We are excited to see the continued confidence of our investors and partners in the new space race and our company as we make our mission of building the world’s first IoT network for the planet, a reality,” said Fabien Jordan, CEO of Astrocast. “As we move toward our commercial launch in Q1 of 2020, we are further confirming our leadership as a fully integrated nanosatellite operator and our unique ability to deliver efficient IoT satellite coverage globally.”
Astrocast currently has two test satellites in orbit and is conducting on-the-ground testing with three pilot customers, with commercial operations expected to commence next year. The company plans to launch a total of 20 satellites next year, with two launches of 5 satellites taking place on India PSLV launches in the first half of next year and another 10 satellites going up on an ArianeSpace Vega rideshare at the end of 2020.
Beyond 2020, Astrocast expects to launch around 30 satellites per year, building up to a constellation of 80 operational satellites. Currently, Astrocast is building 3U-sized satellites and is considering moving to 6U satellites for its next-generation of hardware in the 2021 timeframe.
Adelaide-based Fleet Space Technologies latest investors include new participants Momenta Ventures and Horizons Ventures, along with Grok Ventures, Blackbird Ventures, and the Kennard family. The new funding will be used to launch its next generation of nanosatellites in 2020. Previously, Fleet raised around $3.4 million dollars from Blackbird Ventures and Grok Ventures alongside matching seed money from the South Australian Government.
Fleet claims it signed up “more than three million” LoRaWAN devices in a single 24 hour period back in February of this year. It currently has four satellites on orbit, a pair of 3U cubesats and a pair of battery-power-only 1.5U cubesats. Like Astrocast, Fleet is moving to larger satellites of the 6U size.
Multiple companies are jumping into the LoRaWAN satellite game, including Lacuna Space, Eutelsat with a 1U test satellite scheduled to launch later this year, and Spanish-based open source consortium Fossa Systems. LoRaWAN has become increasingly popular since it uses open standards and freely available unlicensed spectrum in the ISM band, bypassing issues with licensed spectrum. Astrocast’s IoT system uses licensed L-band spectrum and proprietary protocols.