Pixxel, India’s first private earth imaging company, said it has closed its $7.3 million seed round with new capital from Omnivore and Techstars joining alongside previous investors Lightspeed Ventures, Blume Ventures, growX and Ryan Johnson, ex-President at Planet Labs.
Also, for the first time on Thursday, Pixxel lifted the veil of secrecy and publicly discussed its mission to build the world’s highest resolution hyperspectral satellite constellation. The company’s first hyperspectral satellite will launch within the next few months.
“We are very excited to finally speak about what we are building at Pixxel. Our new funding enables us to build a health monitor for the planet through the world’s most advanced hyperspectral small-satellites. This enables us to capture some of the richest imagery that’s ever been beamed down to earth,” said Awais Ahmed, CEO, Pixxel. “Our hyperspectral satellites will allow society to tackle many of humanity’s most pressing issues and we believe they will become the holy grail of remote sensing – providing the best combination of spatial, temporal and spectral resolutions to date and empowering humans to see the earth like never before,” he said.
Compared to the common multispectral satellites prevalent today, Pixxel’s hyperspectral earth-imaging satellites will beam down 50x more information by capturing light reflected from the earth in far more detail and in much narrower bands than just red, green and blue. This allows Pixxel to capture exact chemical signatures and offer much more accurate solutions to seemingly unsolvable issues in agriculture, energy and environment conservation. Once deployed, Pixxel’s constellation will provide 24-hour global coverage in higher quality resolution and lower cost than any existing satellite competitors.
The additional funding will be utilised to boost Pixxel’s efforts in making the agricultural industry more efficient in the country and worldwide. The satellite imagery with agricultural datasets can help in improving the existing crop and water management analytics as well as identifying a spectrum of issues that crop up during the growing season. The funding will also enable Pixxel to continue to rapidly scale its operations to meet the growing demand for high-quality remote sensing data through hyperspectral imaging.
To date, Pixxel has built partnerships and worked alongside the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Maxar, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
Pixxel, is expected to soon launch its first remote-sensing satellite on the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) workhorse – the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). For this, the Bengaluru-based firm has entered into an agreement with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), a Government of India company under the Department of Space.
The agreement with NSIL is one of its kind and one of the first since the setting up of IN-SPACe, the authorisation and regulatory body under the Department of Space (DoS) to enable private players undertaking space activities in India.
The DoS and Pixxel will work in collaboration to enhance utilisation and maximise the benefits of space assets for India. This first-of-a-kind private earth-observation mission will help provide solutions to many pressing environmental and agricultural issues, among other things.
Pixxel has also signed an agreement with Silicon Valley-based in-space satellite transportation and infrastructure company Momentus Inc, to launch its second satellite into space. The launch is scheduled for this year on top of a SpaceX Falcon-9 to SSO orbit (Sun-synchronous orbit), a particular kind of polar orbit.
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