Start-up Kepler raises US $ 60 million for the expansion of the data communication network in space and adds a US subsidiary
A series of GEN1 satellites ready to fly to a launch site.
Kepler Communications, a start-up building a satellite Internet network for off-earth services, has raised $ 60 million in a new round to help the Toronto-based company grow, including expanding into the United States
“We don’t sell directly to companies here on Earth – we focus on providing space stations and other satellites with communications so they can bring their information back to Earth in real time,” Kepler CEO Mina Mitry told CNBC.
Kepler’s private equity round was led by Tribe Capital, which previously invested in space companies Relativity and Momentus, with funding also coming from Addition Capital and Canaan Partners. The company has raised a total of $ 90 million since its inception in 2015.
The company is working to put “just over 200 satellites” into orbit to make its network “fully operational by 2023,” Mitry said. Kepler’s satellites are “roughly the size of a cereal box” and orbit the earth in low orbits that travel from the North Pole to the South Pole every 90 minutes. The company operates 15 satellites in orbit and is building the satellites at its Toronto headquarters at a rate of more than 10 per month.
Thanks to the satellites already in orbit, Kepler is generating “millions” of revenue before his network is fully operational, Mitry said.
Internet in space
Senior satellite technician Chris Summers is performing the final pre-flight checks on the Kepler-16 and Kepler 17 satellites.
While there are a number of companies working to build new satellite internet networks for terrestrial people, such as SpaceX’s Starlink, Kepler is creating a service for everything beyond. Noting that Kepler’s network would be the first to be built by a company, Mitry cited NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) network as an example of a comparable but aging capability.
“We will be the commercial alternative that is available,” said Mitry.
Kepler’s goal is to connect to the assets of other companies and organizations like image satellites or space stations and then “bring that information back to Earth”.
“All of this stuff is done to make space available to a huge group of people, so now there is a need to provide off-earth internet access that didn’t exist before,” Mitry said.
US office probably in Washington
Mitry noted that Kepler has doubled its workforce annually since its inception. The company employed around 80 people at the beginning of 2021 and expects around 150 employees by the end of the year.
Kepler’s expansion includes further expansions outside of Canada, with the company planning to set up a US office. Mitry said the company has not yet officially committed to a location, but the office will likely be in Washington, DC
“The focus of this office is on scaling up for US government customers,” said Mitry. “We have been very fortunate that even though we are based here as a Canadian company, we have been given some opportunities from the US government and we want to be closest to our customers to serve them. So we will both increase sales “and marketing and technical functions.”
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