Press Release

German NewSpace Startup, ConstellR, launches their first agricultural water monitoring system into orbit.

By SpaceRef Editor
February 21, 2022
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A thermal infrared heat map alongside a standard, visual image of cropland ©ConstellR

On Saturday 19th February 2022, German NewSpace company ConstellR successfully
launched their first thermal infrared earth observation system into space for global water
monitoring. The payload was launched from Wallops Island, Virginia, part of the Northrop
Grumman resupply mission to the International Space Station.

The novel payload, LisR (Longwave Infrared Sensing demonstratoR), is the first of its kind to
be launched by ConstellR and is a precursor to its full constellation of microsatellites, the
first generation of which will be launched end of 2023. It paves the way for a scalable,
commercial water monitoring service for smart agriculture based on the detection of
changes in crop health days to weeks before current approaches.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN and the World Wildlife Fund,
agriculture consumes 70 percent of the world’s available freshwater. 60 percent of this water
is wasted however, due to ill-maintained irrigation systems, inefficient application methods
and crops that require more water than their environment allows. This is where ConstellR’s
technology will be so relevant: their coloured land surface temperature heatmaps, depicted
across a scale of blue, turquoise, yellow, orange and red represent various scales of plant
stress and water availability at sub-field level. This level of insight helps in the optimisation
of smart irrigation systems, the detection of potential threats to yield and the early mitigation
of crop stress.

These kinds of maps and measured biophysical indicators have the potential to disrupt
global agricultural practices and could in the future improve weather models, optimise
urban planning and drive more effective disaster management.
Marius Bierdel, CTO of ConstellR

Founded in 2020, ConstellR has grown from three founders to over 25 employees across
aerospace engineering and data science, software development and commercial teams. The
company draws on a heritage of over 20 space missions and brings critical industry
experience from a range of industry heavyweights including OHB, Planet, MunichRe,
Honeywell and Ernst & Young.

The team’s patented space-based technology will deliver high-precision, granular crop health
data, allowing the derivation of evapotranspiration and other biophysical factors that help
determine biosphere health. This information offers the potential to enhance precision agriculture on a global basis and deliver actionable insights faster and more cost efficiently
than existing solutions.

This demonstrator technology provides an first thermal datastream for ConstellR, with the
goal that the data will be utilised by their pilot clients as early as April 2022. The technology
will allow the team to understand more about how its thermal infrared system performs in
space whilst allowing agri-analytics customers to pilot the use of a novel, calibrated thermal
EO dataset and guide the design of future monitoring products. It represents a first step in
ConstellR’s vision to build a deeper atlas of the planet’s ecosphere, driving a better
understanding of global resources, more crop per drop and a strong contribution to global
food security.

ConstellR anticipates large agri-food companies including Bayer Crop Sciences, BayWa and
Ferrero, as well as governments and global agricultural research groups to be among their
future clients. For such customers, the scalability and high precision of ConstellR’s data in
supporting yield monitoring, prediction and management, will be key.

When plants are in bad shape they wilt and change colour, by which point it is
already too late to take mitigative action. Thanks to the infrared technology with
which ConstellR’s satellites are equipped, it will be possible to detect early signs of
water stress up to two weeks earlier. This can help prevent long-term crop damage,
over-watering and water waste.

Dr. Max Gulde, CEO of ConstellR

Together with a world class team at OHB, ConstellR is taking on the challenge of
scaling down the size and cost of a normally very complex payload while maintaining
the very high performance required so that we can be complementary with large
institutional missions, with the added benefit of a higher revisit time. The LiSR
demonstrator is an important first milestone in this technology evolution and we look
forward to continuing working together in the future.
Egbert Jan van der Veen, Managing Director of OHB Venture Capital & Head of
Strategy at OHB Group.

ConstellR is a spin-out from Germany’s Fraunhofer institute. The company’s innovative first
payload has been designed and developed in partnership with Fraunhofer EMI, Fraunhofer
IOF, SpaceOptix and IR Nova and with the support of Nanoracks, BMWi, EXIST, LZN and the
Digital Innovation Hub Photonics.

ConstellR counts Amathaon Capital, OHB Ventures and FTTF among its investors and is
working closely with partners OHB, Nanoavionics, Exolaunch and the European Space
Agency to de-risk its ongoing technology development. The team and its advisors are based
across the globe in Germany, Sweden, Canada, the UK, France, Italy and the US.

For further details on the ConstellR launch, the LisR system, and learn more about potential
commercial applications, please view the Launch Media Pack below.


About ConstellR

ConstellR is a NewSpace data and services company leading the way in delivering a daily,
global water monitoring service. ConstellR provides the fundamental global data for smart
crop monitoring, identifying changes in crop health days to weeks before they become
visible and enabling farmers to react early to and mitigate for potential crop risks and losses.
This allows customers to reduce uncertainty in crop yield forecasting, limiting price volatility,
improving logistics planning and increasing transparency across agri-food supply chains.

Media Contact Details

Cassi Welling, Chief Operations Officer
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t | +49(0)170 7750 148
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Media Packs

(incl. Logos, images etc.)

ConstellR Launch Media Pack 

ConstellR Standard Press Kit



SpaceRef staff editor.