Spire Secures 7M Contract with NASA
With two feet in Luxembourg and over 100 eyes in the sky, Spire provides weather, maritime data and predictive analytics to governments and companies. It has just signed a $7m contract with NASA. With an office in Luxembourg established in February 2018, Spire Global is a US provider of space data and predictive analytics, and continues its journey into a new orbit.
Photo: Peter Platzer CEO and Founder of Spire Global / Credits © Spire
“Spire continues to be committed to building our Luxembourg office with some of the world’s best minds in tandem with our global workforce. Our team has grown organically despite the difficult global environment thanks to Luxembourg’s incredibly dedicated business and engineering talent,” says Peter Platzer CEO and Founder of Spire Global.
Spire was founded in June 2012 in San Francisco by International Space University graduates Peter Platzer, Jeroen Cappaert and Joel Spark The company now manages more than a hundred nanosatellites and a global ground station network, that collect data about the earth and beyond, and helps identify, track and predict the movement of the world’s resources and weather systems.
Collected data provides information on global trade, weather, aviation, shipping and supply chain, illegal fishing, as well as on maritime intelligence, to logistics analytics SMEs, large corporations and governments.
“Spire is a space-driven data company and data services, data products company. I sometimes joke that we’re just a data company. We’ve got the competitive advantage of having our own in-house space program. We do build and launch and operate satellites. Our whole business model is driven around data from space, augmenting life on Earth, and improving life on Earth. We focus on listening to all kinds of signals from space. Ship tracking, aircraft tracking, weather data, ionosphere data,” tells Jeroen Cappaert, Spire Global CTO and Founder.
In Luxembourg, Spire now operates with a campus and three business units: Spire Weather, Spire Aviation and Spire Maritime. According to Forbes in 2019 “Spire’s maritime business unit showed a four-fold increase in bookings in 2019 as the unit undertook expansion in many forms: moving into Asia, creating its first weather product for the maritime industry, and offering more innovation in vessel tracking, among other milestones.”
The firm provides weather data for climate monitoring and forecasting purposes including natural disaster prediction, renewable energy integration, and agriculture. Spire Maritime is a stand-alone business unit dedicated to deep analytics and data on vessel tracking and monitoring.
During these two years, the group scaled its team in the Grand-Duchy and carried out scientific and engineering projects, including a data lake – or a single store of data – for local public research institutions and start-ups.
“These entities will be provided with sets of proprietary, differentiating, high-quality data for research and non-commercial product development activities,” comments James A. Pearson, Head of Global Communications at Spire Global. “This collaborative initiative is co-funded by the Luxembourg Space Agency through its National Space Programme (LuxIMPULSE) and is designed to spur the development of commercial space research by providing consistently reliable, critical data at no cost to the public, academic, and research communities.”
$7M contract with NASA
Spire also participates in real-time all-weather monitoring of flooded areas and ionospheric disturbances caused by tsunami waves, as well as a project on soil moisture detection to improve irrigation needs in rain-deprived areas.
“Even though a Satellite goes around the earth every hour and a half, it doesn’t mean you see the whole world every hour and a half. This one satellite travels around and it’s going to see this target, but it’s not going to see it again until that target’s rotated it all the way around to the other side 12 hours later. And that could be a long 12 hours. We need to be able to replace this capability and that’s what we think you can do with CubeSats. So the idea is, instead of having one single satellite, you have a constellation or a fleet. This shows that by having lots of satellites in different places, you can see how you have a greater view of the planet. So this particular target that you’re interested in, you now see very, very frequently. That’s what Spire has proven you can do with CubeSats,” Joel Spark, Chief Satellite Architect and Founder, Spire Global
In 2020, Spire Global signed a $7M contract with NASA to receive Spire radio occultation data, which will be available to agency scientists to use in Earth-observing missions. “It is a first and a milestone in terms of the many new ways the small-satellite industry is supporting pillars of infrastructure like NASA and making a contribution to weather prediction with emerging technology,” Pearson says. Spire now employs over 50 people in the Grand-Duchy.
Founded in San Francisco in 2012, Spire Global has 225 employees and operates across six locations worldwide. In August 2014, the group opened its Singapore office and developed its network of ground stations, before gaining a foothold in Glasgow in February 2015, to mass produce satellites.
In December 2017, Spire was granted a $70 million Series C funding from the national Luxembourg Future Fund and Expon Capital. It went on to open its second European campus in Luxembourg two months later.
Spire took further ground in the Grand-Duchy with Spire Maritime (February 2019) and Spire Weather (September 2019), followed by the launch of Spire Aviation (October 2019) and another office in Washington DC (November 2019).
Article originally published on Silicon Luxembourg
About The Author
Marc Auxenfants - Marc is a reporter covering companies, economics, central banks, energy, infrastructure and European issues. He has been working as a reporter for several online and print media in Luxembourg. He holds a Masters in journalism (Celsa-Sorbonne Paris), a Masters in Sociology and Economics (University Paris-X-Nanterre) and a postgraduate in European Economics (Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken).