MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Finnish startup Kuva Space announced plans Feb. 7 to establish Kuva Space US in Fairfax, Virginia.
Former Iceye US CEO Jerry Welsh, a Kuva Space US board member, is leading the company’s campaign to provide hyperspectral insights to U.S. government customers.
Kuva Space selected Fairfax to “strategically positioning ourselves at the heart of the intelligence community and in close proximity to Washington D.C. and maritime security services customers based in Maryland,” Welsh told SpaceNews by email. “These locations represent three key markets that we aim to engage, develop strong relationships, and build collaboration and support.”
Kuva Space raised 16.6 million euros ($17.6 million) in a Series A funding round last year. The company plans to launch two hyperspectral imaging satellites in 2024 and to offer daily hyperspectral monitoring by 2026. By 2030, Kuva Space aims to offer three daily views of sites, Welsh said.
“One of the reasons I’m excited to work with Kuva Space is its plans to offer new spaceborne hyperspectral capabilities,” Welsh said in a statement. “Over the next year, we will be expanding in the U.S. to provide cutting-edge, robust, and reliable services and meet security and regulatory requirements to become a trusted partner to the U.S. government.”
Welsh said Kuva Space is unique because the continuous stream of data acquired by its constellation will “eliminate the need for manual tasking, rendering the cumbersome tasking process obsolete.”
Kuva Space also is developing hyperspectral cameras that “possess in-orbit tuning capability, enabling us to adjust the spectral bands for improved image quality” and an artificial intelligence-based analytics platform,” Welsh added.
U.S. Market Pull
Earth observation companies around the world are establishing facilities in the United States, the largest space and defense market.
Kuva Space, for example, sees the National Reconnaissance Office as a potential customer.
In March, the NRO signed agreements with six hyperspectral satellite imagery providers. The agreements fall under the NRO’s Strategic Commercial Enhancements program, which is designed to help the agency understand commercial remote sensing capabilities. The SCE program is open to U.S. and foreign-owned U.S. commercial firms.
Kuva Space executives see the NRO hyperspectral awards as a strong indicator of government interest in exploring various types of space based hyperspectral capabilities, Welsh said.