Over the past 10 years, technological advances and falling costs have led to an increase in the number of satellite launches worldwide. French NewSpace start-ups see this as an opportunity to compete with incumbent players in the space industry.
Growing interest in satellite data
U-Space is one of the new French start-ups in the space industry sector, which has long been the preserve of institutional players such as the European Space Agency and NASA.
Based in Toulouse, U-Space specializes in the manufacture of new-generation nanosatellites, and has just completed a €7 million round of financing with BNP Paribas Développement, Bpifrance and Karot Capital.
As U-Space president Fabien Apper explains to Les Echos, we are currently witnessing " an explosion in the number of customers wanting to offer services based on satellite data collected in space ".
Demand is strong: these customers are ready to buy dozens, even hundreds of satellites. France's SpaceTech start-ups are well aware of this, and are constantly innovating to carve out an increasingly important place for themselves in this market.
NewSpace: the multiplication of French start-ups
The Centre national d'études spatiales (CNES) encourages the creation of new SpaceTech start-ups through its SpaceFounders incubator, while specialized funds such as Cosmi Capital and Expansion help them to develop.
Major corporations are also beginning to take an interest in these new players. Thales and Airbus, for example, are working with U-Space to facilitate its access to export markets.
Start-up Exotrail, founded in 2017, is one of the pioneers in the sector. It has developed expertise in space logistics, and is developing solutions designed to improve satellite performance. Earlier this year, Exotrail developed a space vehicle capable of simultaneously guiding several satellites, with its first flight scheduled for October 2023 on a SpaceX rocket.
Rennes-based start-up Unseenlabs specializes in maritime surveillance, intercepting radio frequency signals from space using 7 satellites to combat illegal fishing, degassing and piracy. Within the next 2 to 3 years, the company aims to deploy some twenty satellites in low orbit.
We've combined capabilities with @UnseenLabs for up-to-date maritime traffic data. Today's announcement at @WSBW_Summit marks an enhanced level of accuracy in dark vessel detection through #RF and #SAR data fusion.- Ursa Space Systems (@UrsaSpace) September 15, 2022
Read more: https://t.co/3lcEaVMVIw
Toulouse-based start-up Anywaves manufactures miniaturized antennas for small satellites, while Prométhée specializes in Earth observation data.
🤔What's a "smart" #antenna?- ANYWAVES (@ANYWAVES_) September 13, 2022
👉Above all, it is an equipment compatible w/ users' needs. It has to combine simplicity 𝐱 plug & play 𝐱 efficiency.
We can design very complex antennas but if they don't fit w/ the customer needs, it is definitely not smart! #WSBW pic.twitter.com/0g6UvxNx5e
All these start-ups are counting on the France 2030 plan to help them develop further. In particular, they need to be able to cut costs by producing in larger quantities, and must attract new investors if they are to compete with companies based in China and the USA.