Entrepreneur Prometheus raises 4.72 million for its constellation of nanosatellites

Prometheus raises 4.72 million for its constellation of nanosatellites

Prometheus obtains the means to become a constellation operator of Earth observation nano-satellites. This young company founded in January 2020 by Olivier Piepszformer vice-president of international management at Safran, and Giao Minh Nguyenformer project manager of ArianeGroup, has just completed a second fundraising of 4.72 million euros, after that of 2.2 million in October 2020.

Undisclosed private investors joined the historical investors, including space sector companies such as Comat, ADF group and Hemeria. This is the first part of a funding round which aims for 15 million euros at the end of the year, thanks to strategic investors such as Bpifrance – which has already contributed 500,000 euros in convertible bonds -, public funds , regional banks and new investment funds.

French “new space” operator

Based in Paris and Toulouse, Prometheus wants to become the French operator of “new space” in Earth observation. After being selected for the study phase, the company will submit its “Japetus” constellation project on April 15 to the CNES and DGE call for tenders. Launched as part of the France 2030 plan, it plans to devote up to 1.5 billion euros to the development of the space sector, two-thirds of which for emerging players. The answer is expected before the summer, but Olivier Piepsz now declares himself certain of being able to move from a “power point start-up to an operator of real satellites”.

Prometheus proposes to develop a constellation of 20 nanosatellites of about forty kilos each, which will refresh the images of the Earth every 45 minutes thanks to the high revisit rate of the spacecraft. It will offer hyperspectral images and will be able to connect to other French constellations, such as CLS’s Kinéis for data transfer.

Connectivity between constellations

This connectivity between constellations has never been achieved, the company points out. “Compared to current observation satellites, we want to multiply the reactivity by 10 to achieve almost real-time image monitoring, with global coverage,” explains Olivier Piepz.

Prometheus positions himself as a master builder, but not as a builder. The fundraising will enable it to buy its first three spacecraft and recruit 20 engineers and salespeople this year, in addition to the current 35 employees, then to employ 100 people in 2025. The start-up has designed and ordered its first demonstrator , Protometheus 1, to the Lithuanian company NanoAvionics.

Launched at the end of 2023, it will be equipped with the latest generation multispectral optical sensors to cover the high-resolution visible spectrum. The second Protometheus 2 demonstrator will be positioned in 2024 and will carry a compact hyperspectral camera designed by Safran Reosc. This type of sensor, which has never been mounted on a nanosatellite, will make it possible to analyze the observed matter.

An investment of at least 120 million euros

After this first phase of systems development, Prometheus plans to launch the first demonstrator of the Japetus constellation at the end of 2024. The start-up then hopes to obtain funds from the France 2030 plan and the Ministry of Defense in order to finance this constellation. , which represents an investment of at least 120 millions of euros.

In addition to state-of-the-art optics and frequency of revisits, the company believes that its added value will be to mix different image sources, such as those from Copernicus, on its data analysis platform, to increase precision until it detects, for example, methane leaks.

The aim is to provide information from the images for defence, agriculture and fisheries monitoring, environment, gas or oil pipeline monitoring, etc., by dividing the price of the data by four. The low cost of nanosatellites opening access to space, the company wants to sell constellations in low orbit and the image analysis platform to developing countries in particular. Prometheus has established contacts with several States in order to sell them services. She has already signed a letter of intent with the Nigerian space agency.

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