Kepler unveils expansion plans after $60 million funding round
TAMPA, Fla. — Canadian startup Kepler plans to build a U.S. presence after raising $60 million for its low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite data constellation.
The company said the office expansion will bring it closer to U.S. customers and potential partners as it nearly doubles its team to 150 people by the end of 2021.
Tribe Capital, a major investor in 3D-printed rocket specialist Relativity Space that recently raised $650 million, led Kepler’s Series B funding round.
Venture capital firm Canaan Partners, and existing investors including IA Ventures and Costanoa Ventures, also participated in the funding round.
It means Kepler has raised more than $90 million to date for a network that — at 15 satellites so far — currently makes it Canada’s largest operator in terms of number of satellites.
These satellites provide Internet of Things (IoT) services for asset tracking and monitoring, as well as store-and-forward communications for large data files.
“We are currently seeing revenue in the millions of (US) dollars,” a Kepler official told SpaceNews via email.
The extra funding enables Kepler to expand its constellation toward a goal of operating 140 cubesats in orbit.
After moving satellite production in-house in early 2020, the startup now says it can produce 10 spacecraft per month.
While its current network is geared toward serving maritime, aviation and government customers, Kepler is planning to extend coverage to Earth observation and space tourism applications.
“Our next generation of satellites will expand our coverage beyond Earth providing internet connectivity [to] people, devices, satellites and more in orbit,” Kepler co-founder and chief technical officer Wen Cheng Chong said in a statement.
Satellites can typically only relay information when they pass an approved ground station, a process the Kepler official described as mostly manual.
It can take multiple satellite passes to relay all the information if a ground station misses one of them, or if there is a large amount of information to transmit.
“We are talking about an active internet connection in space that satellites, space stations and other assets can take advantage of and have real-time connectivity to the internet on Earth,” the official said, adding Kepler will “have news on future launches very soon.”