By 2030, Kuva Space plans to operate a hyperspectral imaging constellation large enough to provide three daily views of sites. Credit: Kuva Space

SAN FRANCISCO – Finnish startup Kuva Space will provide hyperspectral data to the European Space Agency under a 1.8 million euro ($1.93 million) contract announced April 29.

Kuva Space will develop onboard data processing and rapid communications links to support Finnish government agencies focused on border security, wildfires and landslides.

The three-year research and development program will culminate with Kuva Space rapidly delivering hyperspectral data to detect illegal activities along the Baltic Sea area between Finland, Estonia and Sweden, according to the news release.

Kuva Space will, for example, issue alerts when a maritime vessel turns of its Automatic Identification System signal.

Civil Security

The contract was awarded by ESA’s Civil Security from Space (CSS) program, an initiative aimed at bolstering humanitarian, law enforcement, safety and emergency response with space technologies.

Delivering hyperspectral data to first responders can have huge environmental, humanitarian and security impacts, Kuva Space CEO Jarkko Antila said in a statement. “We look forward to collaboratively developing a robust solution to test the end-to-end delivery of insights to the user as part of the CSS program,” he added.

Civil security organizations often have limited access to geospatial data and data-transmission capability.

To address the problem, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Portugal and Switzerland have contributed funding for ESA’s Smart-Connect program. Smart-Connect addresses the challenges inherent in crisis communications when traditional telecommunications channels may be disrupted.

“By leveraging new technology innovations and fusing together a diverse set of space capabilities, the project reflects the value of Kuva Space developments and the value of Civil Security from Space programme in enriching the crisis response toolkit,” Christopher Topping, ESA’s acting CSS program director, said in a statement.

Hyperspectral Constellation

Kuva Space raised 16.6 million euros in a Series A funding round last year. The company plans to launch its first hyperspectral imaging satellite in July.

A second satellite and initial service are scheduled to begin later this year. By 2030, Kuva Space aims to operate a 100-satellite constellation.

“Hyperspectral data opens up a range of new and enhanced applications and services, particularly within the civil security domain,” Gordon Campbell, enterprise head for ESA’s Earth Observation Programme Directorate, said in a statement. “Kuva Space is one of the leading European companies developing hyperspectral systems, so it is very exciting that the company is a key member of the Smart-Connect consortium.”

In 2023, Kuva Space won a 5 million euro contract to provide hyperspectral data for the European Union Copernicus program.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...