Space startup raises funds to confront climate change

Open Cosmos, a pioneering space startup headquartered in the United Kingdom, is poised to advance its mission of safeguarding our planet following the successful completion of a $50 million fundraising round.

The UK-based company uses satellites to tackle environmental issues. By tapping AI, sensors, and Earth Observation (EO) imagery, the probes provide unique insights into climate change.

These findings can shine new light on global temperatures, greenhouse gases, polar ice caps, sea level changes, natural disasters, and deforestation. Scientists can then use the data in damage mitigation programmes.

Rafel Jordá Siquier, Open Cosmos’ CEO and founder, shared: “I’ve always believed that space data holds the key to building a more resilient and sustainable world enabling us to better understand, predict and react to different challenges and make informed decisions,” he said.

“These detailed global views, combined with advanced data visualisation tools, provide organisations all around the world with the insights they need to make changes that, in time, will better protect our planet.” 

Among Open Cosmos’ current fleet is Menut, launched in January by SpaceX Falcon 9. The nanosatellite monitors deforestation, wildfire impact, flooding, and coastal erosion. Five satellites will be launched by Open Cosmos by March 2024: PLATERO, which will monitor the environmental impact of farming in Andalusia; IOD6, which will use hyperspectral imagery to survey Atlantic coastal and maritime areas; MANTIS, which will produce high-resolution images of logistics, energy infrastructure, and natural resources; ALISIO1, which will make environmental observations in the Canary Islands for applications including agriculture and disaster management; and PHISAT2, a cubesat with six onboard AI applications that will process data in orbit.

To maximise the benefits, the satellites can connect to the OpenConstellation, which organisations use to share and access space data.

OpenConstellation is part of an end-to-end service, which covers the design, build, and operation of satellites. According to Open Cosmos, the model democratises access to space by cutting costs and simplifying processes.

“The space sector has traditionally been seen as quite an exclusive one,” Jordá said. “It’s expensive to build and design satellites, costly to access and use them, and you also need a high-level science and tech understanding to leverage the tools.

“This is why ensuring access to space data is so important and why the space sector should prioritise this because this bridges the gap between upstream and downstream, as this is where the most growth will come from.”

To maximise the potential, Jordá wants stronger backing from the public sector.

“Particularly in the UK, we need government-funded projects to allow us to continue to fuel this rich innovation we’re seeing and support companies to go from concept to commercialisation,” he said.

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