The Space Alliance formed by Thales Alenia Space (Thales 67%, Leonardo 33%) and Telespazio (Leonardo 67%, Thales 33%) announced yesterday at the "Satellite" show in Washington DC that it has officially acquired a minority stake in Spaceflight Industries, a Seattle-based company, after getting the green light from the US authorities.
The investment is part of a $ 150 million fundraising from various sources including, in addition to the Space Alliance, investors such as Mitsui & Co., Ltd., a leading Japanese company. To date, the total capital obtained by Spaceflight Industries is over $ 200 million.
BlackSky, the Spaceflight Industries company dedicated to geospatial intelligence, will now be able to launch a constellation of mini-satellites for Earth observation characterized by a high frequency of revisiting on every point of the Planet. Thanks to the integration of data from space and terrestrial sensors, obtained through the automated processing of information and the application of big data analytics techniques, BlackSky will be able to offer innovative solutions to monitor the environment and the territory, as well as services and products geoinformation for intelligence activities.
The first four new-generation BlackSky satellites will be launched over the next 12 months, while the new financing will ensure the production and launch of additional 20 satellites within the 2020. The profits generated by the activities of the first satellites will later allow the production and launch of the entire constellation, consisting of 60 mini-satellites.
Thanks to the agreement signed today, Thales Alenia Space and Spaceflight Industries will form a 50% joint venture (50% Spaceflight, 20% Thales Alenia Space), based in Seattle, dedicated to the large-scale production of high-performance mini and micro-satellites and reduced costs, including the first XNUMX satellites of the BlackSky constellation. The new company, called LeoStella LLC, will be operational this year with unique capabilities for the US market and the rapidly growing sector of low orbit satellite constellations. The company's top management will be made up of personalities from the two partners and representatives of other organizations in the sector.
In addition, BlackSky and Telespazio have signed a commercial collaboration agreement for the purpose of distributing mutual products and services, as well as jointly developing and marketing innovative geoinformation applications and services. In particular, based on this agreement, Telespazio will distribute BlackSky products and services on the European institutional market.
"This partnership reflects the transformation strategy of the 'new space' that Thales Alenia Space is developing in order to become the most important manufacturer of miniaturized satellites for constellations with high frequency of revisitation, both in Europe and in the United States”Said Jean Loïc Galle, President and CEO of Thales Alenia Space. "The LeoStella LLC joint venture will combine the competitive and innovative project of the Spaceflight platform with the industrial skills developed by Thales Alenia Space for constellations such as Globalstar 2, Iridium NEXT and O3b, and will be able to offer a production capacity that will go beyond the needs by BlackSky ".
"The new important agreement signed with Spaceflight strengthens the positioning of Telespazio as a leading global operator in the sector, strongly expanding, of the Observation of the Earth from space", Stated Luigi Pasquali, Leonardo's Space Activities Coordinator and Telespazio CEO. "The launch of new constellations of mini-satellites to complement the large space systems will be one of the driving elements of the" space economy "and will allow Telespazio to satisfy even more effectively the current and future demand for innovative services from citizens, institutions and companies ".
Jason Andrews, President and CEO of Spaceflight Industries, said: "This agreement with two of the most important players in the European space industry confirms the validity of BlackSky's business model, reducing financial and operational risks for our Earth observation satellite constellation. The LeoStella LLC joint venture with Thales Alenia Space represents a turning point for the production of mini and micro satellites in the United States. Furthermore, the partnership with Telespazio, as well as the significant involvement of Mitsui & Co., Ltd, accelerates our go-to-market strategy and will lead to winning synergies for all parties involved.".
The Earth Observation market is constantly evolving, with a strong demand for platforms that guarantee ever higher resolutions and ever shorter review times. Thales Alenia Space, Telespazio and Spaceflight Industries have decided to combine their expertise to create a constellation of mini-satellites that, with an innovative ground segment, will guarantee services at competitive prices, thanks to the massive and automated processing of data and images . These products will not only be offered to the traditional geoinformation market, but will also be able to develop new market segments in various sectors: mining, energy, transport, finance, agriculture, industry and environmental monitoring, up to B2C applications.