Satlantis adds thermal imagery following UK investment

Satlantis, a provider of Earth observation satellites based in Spain, has purchased a majority stake in SuperSharp, a spin-out company from a British university.

The acquisition is intended to help Satlantis expand into the thermal imaging market. SuperSharp is currently developing a foldable thermal infrared telescope that would enable smaller satellites, with a size equivalent to 12 cubesats, to capture images with a 6-meter ground sampling distance.

This technology is expected to provide four times better resolution per unit cost than currently available satellites.

Satlantis’ investment in SuperSharp will provide the resources needed to deploy an in-orbit demonstrator in 2025, using a satellite platform and launch provider that have yet to be secured. The exact amount of the investment remains undisclosed.

Spun out from University of Cambridge in 2017, SuperSharp employs seven people and will remain an independent company following the investment, under a deal that recently secured British government approval.

Satlantis employs around 80 people, including about 10 at its U.S.-based subsidiary.

The Spanish company builds Earth observation payloads that it sells separately or as part of a whole satellite by using subcontractors to provide the spacecraft chassis.

The manufacturer’s first whole satellite under this arrangement, Armsat-1 for the government of Armenia — the country’s first dedicated satellite — launched last year.

Satlantis produces the majority of a satellite under this arrangement before securing a customer so it can support a quick turnaround and it has another four missions in the pipeline for 2023-2024.

Mare said the first of these will be a methane-detection satellite called GEISAT, slated to launch on a SpaceX rideshare mission in June for undisclosed customers.

Satlantis currently develops Earth imaging payloads using high-resolution visible (VIS), near infrared (NIR) and short-wave infrared (SWIR) spectrum.

Adding SuperSharp’s technology to its product mix enables Satlantis to offer payloads across a full spectrum of imaging solutions from the visible and near-infrared (VNIR) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to long-wave infrared (LWIR).

Satlantis recently posted 11.6 million euros ($13 million) in revenues for 2022, which it said was a record for the 10-year-old company.