ICEYE’s new $136M in funding points to a white-hot space-based remote-sensing market

Synthetic aperture radar imaging startup ICEYE has raised $136 million in a new Series D funding round, bringing its total raised to date to $304 million and making it one of the most well-capitalized space startups outside of SpaceX. ICEYE’s focus is on remote sensing, i.e. capturing images of Earth from space, and the technology it uses to do so, with its ability to easily peer through cloud cover and other obstacles that would flummox traditional image-based observation, appeals to a broad range of customers — including the lucrative defense industry.

Speaking of, ICEYE also signed a contract with the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) on January 20 to take part in that agency’s evaluation of SAR commercial remote sensing. ICEYE also plans to launch as many as 10 new satellites in 2022, adding to the 16 they’ve already sent to orbit.

The company was originally founded in Helsinki, Finland, but has since expanded its footprint to include a U.S. subsidiary, which also began operating its own manufacturing facility last year. Being able to fully build and operate satellites from U.S. soil means ICEYE can operate as a contractor for key U.S. deals related to national defense.

Meanwhile, the company continues to serve other customers across a range of industries, including insurance, shipping and maritime monitoring, catastrophe response and even finance. There are no shortage of customers who find value in being able to receive frequent imaging of the Earth’s surface, unobstructed by either lighting conditions, inclement weather or other traditional barriers.

The new $136 million round was led by existing investor Seraphim Space, and includes participation from new strategic investors and existing customers BAE Systems and Kajima Ventures.