ICEYE X1 rendering (Source: ICEYE)

Radar satellite operator ICEYE secures more cash, launches more satellites

ICEYE has had a very business two weeks, securing $87 million in venture financing and putting two more satellites into orbit.  But the company needs to move fast as other synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) firms enter the marketplace.

Lead by True Ventures, the $87 million Series C round was announced on September 22, 2020. To date, ICEYE has raised a total of $152 million in financing.

“ICEYE is enabling others to solve immeasurably difficult problems that affect the lives of millions of people around the world. Our team has built a reputation of delivering results to our customers with unmatched timelines and quality of service. We are proud of that reputation, and we intend to maintain it,” said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and Co-founder of ICEYE. “This round of investment ensures our SAR satellite constellation will reach a size of at least 12 satellites in 2021, guaranteeing 4 times a day revisit rate globally.”

ICEYE says the financing round is “significantly larger” than originally planned, especially given the turmoil of 2020.  The company plans to use the financing to accelerate the growth of its SAR satellite constellation with more spacecraft, move to 24×7 customer operations, and establish spacecraft manufacturing in the United States – an interesting move considering the company’s roots in Finland. The company manufacturers its own satellites in-house.

Two ICEYE satellites were put into orbit on September 28, 2020 as a part of a Soyuz rideshare mission placing more than 30 satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO). Prior to that launch, ICEYE had 5 satellites in orbit and expects to add two more on by the end of this year for a fleet of 9.  An addition 8 or more satellites are expected to be launched in 2021.

Various first touted in ICEYE’s finance announcement include 0.25 meter resolution data and SAR video and “record time” data deliveries of 5 minutes from the start of data downlink to having processed images available on customer systems.

Other competitors in the SAR space are catching up, however.  Capella Space recently launched its first production SAR satellite and has at least two more scheduled for launch this year. PredaSAR has booked flights onboard SpaceX for its satellites with first flight likely to occur in 2021, with a team built around former Air Force and Department of Defense executives.

Doug Mohney

Doug Mohney, a principal at Cidera Analytics, has been working and writing about IT and satellite industries for over 20 years. His real world experience including stints at two start-ups, a commercial internet service provider that went public in 1997 for $150 million and a satellite internet broadband company. Follow him on Twitter at DougonTech or contact him at dmohney139 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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