Scottish nanosatellite developer Alba Orbital has raised $3.4m for its plans to provide low cost imaging of the earth at night. Its Unicorn-1 and Unicorn-2 nanosatellites weigh less than 1kg and are based on its PocketQube format developed and flight tested with the European Space Agency (ESA).
The company is launching two Unicorn-2 nanosatellite platforms next month to create the world’s highest resolution dataset of the earth at night. The Unicorn-2A and Unicorn-2D are the first satellite for the NightLights service, with further launches in 2021, 2022 and 2023 to add additional downlink capacity by increasing the number of Unicorn-2 satellites in orbit dedicated to imaging the earth at night. The images will cover 24 metres per pixel, showing an area of 62 km x 48 km.
The seed funding round was led by Estonian investment fund Metaplanet Holdings, which was set up by Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn and has backed nearly 200 startups including supercomputer-on-a-chip startup Luminous Computing.
The Alba funding also included Y Combinator, Liquid2, Soma, Uncommon Denominator, Zillionize and numerous angels.
The company was the first Scottish company to take investment from the Y Combinator, a key incubator in the US. YC is famous for being an early investor in Airbnb, Dropbox, Twitch, Stripe, Reddit and many more billion dollar startups and is seen as the top global program for early stage startups.
‘Taking part in YC and to have them as our first investor after years of bootstrapping has been an immense privilege and we are super excited to have completed the recent W21 batch,” said Tom Walkinshaw, Founder/CEO of Alba Orbital.
Alba works with another startup, Momentum, which has a satellite launching system and uses the SpaceX Falcon rocket.