ICEYE, a Finnish startup intends to create the largest constellation of small satellites. This constellation if successful will be the biggest constellation in the world. The startup is barely five years old, but their ambitions are over the roof. The company which launched its microsatellites in January this year has managed to raise $34 million in a fundraising event.
The company will combine synthetic aperture radar (SAR) with a microsatellite form along with a low orbit. The company can use the funds raised from the event to upgrade the proven technology.
ICEYE’s first satellite, X1 was tiny, about the size of a microwave. According to the founders, Rafal Modrweski and Pekka Laurila, the building of the satellites was something no one regarded as possible. A lot of experts were skeptical about their plans. He revealed that it was challenging building something no one had faith in.
He admitted that the satellite failed some tests initially, but it eventually passed the most relevant NASA tests.
He mentioned that the power, service life, and aperture were challenges that plagued the building of the satellite. The X1 satellite has taken 600 high-quality images during the first few months after launch. The satellite launched aboard an Indian rocket along with thirty other satellites.
Modrweski noted that the success of the SAR microsatellites has been beneficial to the company. The company hopes to build a constellation that can image any part of the world within one hour. The company will launch on two more occasions before the year ends.
The firm will launch the ICEYE-X2 on the Falcon 9 and ICEYE-X3 on Rocket Lab. There have been some improvements on the X1. The startup revealed that the most significant improvement has got to do with the mass of the satellite. The initial microsatellite costs close to $3 million. The X2 and X3 also cost around the same figure despite the upgrades.
Although the company fully assembled the X1 in-house, it is contracting other companies for some aspects of the X3 and X4. A Poland based company is in charge of partially assembling the X2. York Space Systems is designing the bus for the X3. ICEYE will design the payload.
The X1 weighed about 70 Kilograms while the X2 now weighs 80 Kilogram. Currently, the firm employs 70 people. The space firm has plans to build the largest constellation by the end of 2020.