Kuva Space, a hyperspectral imagery startup founded in Finland, has closed a €16.6 million ($17.6 million) Series A funding round as it looks to deploy up to 100 satellites by the end of the decade.
The startup, formerly called Reaktor Space Lab, was founded in 2016 and spent its first four years focused on building nanosatellites for firms including the European Space Agency. It has successfully launched three satellites to-date, including a cubesat that contained a small hyperspectral camera demonstration. It was only around 2020 that the company decided to pursue a hyperspectral constellation, with Kuva closing a €4.2 million ($4.85 million) seed round in October 2021 to get started.
“Building nanosatellites for other people, it’s not the nicest business in the world,” Kuva Space CEO Jarkko Antila said in a recent interview. “We’ve been always looking at these different opportunities to go into digital services business, through maybe telecom or also hyperspectral.”
Hyperspectral imagery can read the “spectral signature” of materials on Earth, which means it can be used to identify crops, minerals, and even gas. There’s been demand for this type of information from verticals ranging from agriculture to oil and gas to defense.
Kuva says that its constellation’s ground pixel size will be the smallest amongst its competitors because it uses a 2D imaging system that layers together images from different bands using software. (It aims to launch two commercial microsatellites next year.) The company can also select which of the bands it wants its satellites to measure, a critical way to get better results for customers, Antila said.
“Instead of measuring 250 bands, you can have 25, and you can take 10 times more pictures from the exact same spot,” he explained. “With this you can increase the signal to noise ratio, which is the critical technical parameter in hyperspectral whether your data makes sense or not.”
Kuva plans to…