Northstar's Skylark constellation of space situational awareness satellites will have optical sensors for tracking other satellites across multiple orbits. Credit: Northstar

TAMPA, Fla. — Canadian startup NorthStar Earth & Space plans to set up European headquarters in Luxembourg, after getting an investment from the country’s government-backed venture capital fund. 

The Luxembourg Future Fund (LFF) said Dec. 17 it is joining a $45 million investment round for Montreal-based NorthStar, which is developing a constellation of commercial imaging satellites to monitor what’s happening in orbit and down below.

LFT is co-investing in the round with Telesystem Space Inc, a family-owned technology fund based in Canada that has previously invested in NorthStar.

NorthStar said it will create a Luxembourg-based “center of excellence” for Space Situational Awareness (SSA), Space Domain Awareness and Space Traffic Management following the investment.

Activities in the country will focus on space-based object tracking and monitoring services, according to NorthStar, which is developing a 52-satellite constellation split between 12 Skylark SSA satellites and 40 spacecraft for monitoring Earth.

The startup is initially focusing on the SSA segment, and French-Italian manufacturer Thales Alenia Space is building the first three Skylark satellites for a launch in the first quarter of 2023.

NorthStar announced Aug. 24 that Canada’s government had conditionally approved the constellation, putting the startup on track for a formal license ahead of launching the first satellites.

LFF has invested in other space companies, including Finnish imagery operator Iceye and U.S.-based data analytics specialist Spire Global, as part of a goal to stimulate and diversify Luxembourg’s economy.

Franz Fayot, Luxembourg’s Minister of the Economy, said in a statement: “Luxembourg has a long-celebrated reputation for creating pioneering partnerships with private space companies that generate technological advances and innovation for sustainable activities both in Space and on Earth. The investment in NorthStar is further fostering the on-going growth and development of Luxembourg’s space capabilities.”

In November 2017, Spire announced plans to establish European headquarters in Luxembourg, after LFF participated in a $70 million funding round.

Spire Global was based in San Francisco at the time, but moved global headquarters to Vienna, Virginia, after becoming a public company this summer by merging with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. 

NorthStar’s American headquarters are located in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...