Press Release

LeoLabs Closes Funding Round for LEO Mapping Platform

By SpaceRef Editor
February 27, 2017
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LeoLabs, Inc., the leading commercial provider of data to track space debris and prevent collisions in low Earth orbit (LEO), today announced closing a $4 million investment round. Funding is backed by a prestigious consortium of global investors, including SRI International, Horizons Ventures, and Airbus Ventures. With this funding, LeoLabs is accelerating its cloud-based debris and satellite tracking service, expanding its ground-based radar infrastructure, and supporting engagements with commercial and governmental customers.

“What we are witnessing is the birth of the LEO ecosystem and the rise of a LEO economy, ranging from real time imaging to communications to space tourism,” said Dan Ceperley, LeoLabs CEO. “To ensure operations, this ecosystem needs to be securely managed. LeoLabs was founded precisely to address the collision and navigation risks threatening the sheer number of satellites needed to support these services.  With our worldwide network of ground-based radars that generate high resolution data about LEO-based objects, LeoLabs is uniquely positioned to offer foundational mapping data and services. Our vision is to help secure responsible and safe operations for cubesat, small and traditional satellite operators, as well as the upcoming network of mega-constellations.”

“Monitoring new generations of satellites is only one small part of the equation,” added Mike Nicolls, LeoLabs CTO. “Space debris is the biggest threat to a healthy LEO economy.  Today we monitor approximately 13,000 objects on a 24/7 basis, with multiple observations per day in all weather conditions. As we build out our radar network going forward, in the next phase we will approach 250,000 objects.” Nicolls continued, “Keeping pace with the dynamic changes in LEO will require our data platform and phased-array radar, which employs millisecond electronic steering.”

LeoLabs’ unique radar technology is actually years in the making. It was originally developed as part of research within SRI International to investigate the Earth’s ionosphere. “LeoLabs is a great example of taking fundamental science and applying it to new commercial markets,” said Manish Kothari, President of SRI Ventures. “As we did with Siri and many other successful ventures, spinning out LeoLabs with other venture investors allows us to accelerate and rapidly transfer our decades of science into the marketplace.”

Concurrent with this announcement, LeoLabs is also announcing the latest addition to its network of ground-based facilities, the Midland Space Radar facility in Midland, Texas.

About LeoLabs 

LeoLabs uses state of the art, patent-pending phased-array radars to offer the industry’s first commercial collision avoidance and mapping service for LEO. These services include rapid orbit determination, early operational support, and ongoing conjunction awareness. The offerings are targeted for commercial satellite operators, government regulatory and space agencies, and satellite management services firms.

About SRI International 

SRI International creates world-changing solutions making people safer, healthier, and more productive. SRI, a research center headquartered in Menlo Park, California, works primarily in advanced technology and systems, biosciences, computing, and education. SRI brings its innovations to the marketplace through technology licensing, spin-off ventures and new product solutions.

About Horizons Ventures Limited 

Horizons Ventures, the private investment arm of Mr. Li Ka-shing, is a leading investor in some of the world’s most innovative companies and disruptive technologies, including Facebook, Waze, Spotify, Impossible Foods, Hampton Creek and Blockstream.

About Airbus Ventures 

Airbus Ventures is a Silicon Valley-headquartered, early-stage investment fund that operates with autonomy and trust within Airbus Group. The group’s autonomy is essential as it successfully funds companies worldwide. The fund is nimble, valuable, and energetic in their work with startups that will impact all life on Earth and beyond.

SpaceRef staff editor.