Technology A Rennes start-up in orbit. She spots rogue ships

A Rennes start-up in orbit. She spots rogue ships

A Breton start-up launched its 7th satellite on Tuesday, May 3. It will identify boats engaged in illegal activities: illegal fishing, drug trafficking or marine pollution.

The Rennes-based SME Unseenlabs deployed its seventh satellite on Tuesday, May 3, intended to identify non-cooperative ships (“dark ships”) from space and thus strengthen the fight against illegal fishing, drug trafficking and marine pollution.

The BRO-7 satellite was launched into low orbit by the Electron mini-rocket fired from New Zealand, a few weeks after the launch of BRO-6 on April 1,
announced the start-up created in Rennes in 2015.

The satellites of this constellation, which should have 20 to 25 by 2025, pick up radio frequency signals from ships, even if they have cut off their AIS (automatic identification system) transponder.

“We can characterize the emissions, that is to say apply a unique signature to each ship. This allows them to follow their trajectory.explains to AFP Clément Galic, president and co-founder of Unseenlabs.
It is enough for a ship at a given time to connect its AIS to have its name and
associate it with an electromagnetic signature.

The satellites in orbit, which allow a location with a precision of one to five kilometers, already make it possible to cover the whole world, it is therefore a question of increasing the frequency of “acquisitions” when passing over the areas of interest, he adds.
“In two acquisitions maximum, we see everything that is happening in the Mediterranean.
radio frequency, it is the first layer of maritime surveillance analysis, we
has an exhaustive vision of a very large area, 100 to 1,000 times larger than a
optical satellite” he details.

According to him, this allows “optimization of resources” by only affecting satellites
optical or radar observation “on real areas of interest“.
The Ministry of the Armed Forces made no mistake about it by investing in 2018, via its Definvest fund, in Unseenlabs.

Today, the start-up, which raised 27.5 million euros, does more than half of its business internationally. “We have income, we haven’t had time to spend it all. More than fundraising, what I would like is a little more French public orders”confides Clément Galic, pointing to the 1.5 billion euros provided for in the recovery plan for new space players.

Unseenlabs, “increased from 10 to 35 employees in 18 months”, hopes to have around ten
satellites in orbit by the end of the year. “On our side, we are ready to launch several other satellites, but it will depending on the availability of launchers”according to Mr. Galic.

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