Japanese SAR startup Synspective reaches $100 million in funding

by

WASHINGTON — Tokyo-based remote sensing company Synspective said July 26 that it had successfully reached $100 million in funding since forming 17 months ago.  

Synspective is planning a constellation of around 25 small, synthetic aperture radar satellites for global coverage of the Earth. Synthetic aperture radar satellites can image day, night and through clouds. 

Synspective indicated that it reached the funding level through a recent capital raise, but did not say how much came from the most recent round. The startup said 12 firms helped it reach $100 million, including the Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation, Shimizu Corporation (a construction and engineering company with lunar aspirations), and the Keio Innovation Initiative 1-LPS, a venture fund that invests in entities that use research accomplishments from the Tokyo-based Keio University.

Synspective’s first satellite, a 150-kilogram demonstrator, is slated to launch on an Arianespace Vega rocket in 2020, according to the startup.

Synspective made no mention of how the July 10 failure of a Vega rocket carrying an Emirati imaging satellite will affect its launch plans. An investigation by Arianespace, Vega rocket builder Avio, and other involved parties is ongoing. 

Synspective is planning a constellation called StriX, comprised of 100-kilogram satellites capable of imaging at a resolution of one to three meters, according to the company website. 

By 2022 the startup hopes to have six satellites in orbit, enabling sufficient imaging capacity to cover all of Asia’s major cities. The company has not set a date by which it hopes to achieve 25 satellites. 

“By providing objective satellite data, Synspective will contribute to the progress of the advancing world by supporting people’s decision-making and impactful actions,” Synspective co-founder and CEO Motoyuki Arai said in a statement. 

Customers have already signed contracts for customized solution services from Synspective, Arai said. 

Synspective said its $100 million in funding will further its satellite development, along with manufacturing and product development. 

Synspective joins a growing list of synthetic aperture radar startups, including Iceye in Finland, San Francisco-based Capella Space and Trident Space of Fairfax, Virginia that all hope to disrupt the imagery market with small, low-cost satellites.