the Unseenlabs startup is inexorably increasing its firepower

Unseenlabs est sur le pas de tir d

The Galic brothers (Clément, Jonathan and Benjamin) “depotent” aboard Unseenlabs, the Rennes startup they created in 2015. After having launched two radio frequency signal detection satellites BRO-5 (Breizh Reconnaissance Orbiter-5) last January then BRO-7 at the beginning of April aboard two Falcon 9 launchers (SpaceX), Unseenlabs now has a seventh satellite orbit overnight Monday through Tuesday by Rocket Lab’s Electron (BRO-6). Launched one month apart, these two satellites will increase the firepower of the constellation of Unseenlabs satellites dedicated so far to the maritime market. Since 2019, the French startup, which claims the place of European leader in the detection of radio frequency (RF) signals from space, has been expanding the largest constellation of this type.

Unseenlabs faced with the launcher crisis

With two new RF satellites in orbit, Unseenlabs will logically improve its service and increase its sales. “For customers and business, the gain is immediateunderlines the CEO and co-founder of the startup Clément Galic in an interview with La Tribune. We are going to offer more revisits, and therefore more data available to our customers. These two new satellites systemically improve our entire service.”. And Clément Galic wants to go quickly, very quickly. It intends to launch three other satellites by the end of the year to have an additional commercial strike force with a constellation of 10 satellites, then “twenty in two years”. However, the glaring lack of launchers currently available could thwart this objective in the very short term.

The deployment “will depend on the launchers available, explains Clément Galic. With the current crisis, it is not necessarily won, but we are ready. We are not slowing down the deployment of our constellation. Quite the contrary. speed up but it’s not going as fast as we would like”.

SpaceX and Rocket Lab but also Arianespace. “It’s really the three operators on which we rely”, specifies the boss of Unseenlabs. However, Arianespace is currently going through an acute crisis with the shutdown of Soyuz in Kourou and Baïkonour due to the war in Ukraine and the uncertainties of Vega with the arrival of Vega C and especially the cessation of the manufacture of the engines of the AVUM upper stage of Vega and Vega C in Ukraine by Youjnoye company in Dnipro. Finally, the scheduled shutdown of Ariane 5 puts enormous pressure on the commissioning of Ariane 6 hoped for at the end of the year but reasonably expected in 2023. However, Clément Galic wishes “to seriously focus on Ariane 6 and use it for a lot of reasons. We also can’t wait to see Vega C take off. These are great capabilities”.

Why such a strategy? The current goes well between Unseenlabs and Arianespace. “We have already done a campaign with them, which went well, observes Clement Galic. We get along very well with the Ariane teams. Their proposals and their ability to access space are perfectly suited to a society like ours. They really made this way towards us. It’s very positive”. In addition, Unseenlabs discovered the Stations of the Cross to launch a satellite out of France. “Exporting a satellite outside of France is very complicatedhe notes. With all the risks that it also entails, we would like to do without it”. However, as Clément Galic reminds us about Arianespace, “technologically it’s good but it doesn’t have enough launchers”. Result, the marketing company for the launches of European launchers “does not cover all our needs”.

“With the arrival of Vega C and Ariane 6, we hope that these two launchers will improve access to space. This is not the case today and that is why we do not we don’t use Ariane all the time, but our desire remains to be launched on Ariane”, explains Clément Galic.

Maritime: a market between 2 and 4 billion dollars

In terms of development, Unseenlabs is on the verge of dizzying growth. “We are on growth of more than 100% per year. It is a very rapid acceleration. In addition the market is there”, assures the co-founder of Unseenlabs. In 2021, the startup achieved more than 5 million euros in turnover. It should logically break the bar of 10 million euros in 2022. The commissioning of two new satellites will allow Unseenlabs to win more contracts, which are possibly larger, and therefore to increase its turnover. But also profitability despite the investments made to deploy a constellation. “We don’t put ourselves in difficulty by deploying new satellites. Because the commercial benefit is rapid”explains Clément Galic.

Unseenlabs, like its only American competitor HawkEye 360, is already benefiting, and even more in the future will benefit from the explosion of the RF market, valued between 2 and 4 billion dollars across all maritime activities (surveillance and action of the State at sea, insurance, shipowners, oil and gas, NGOs… And the defense market? Unseenlabs ensures that it is growing rapidly. Especially abroad. The company receives solicitations in all areas where geopolitical, strategic and economic maritime interests are omnipresent, such as the Pacific and Indian oceans, the China Sea, all of northern Europe and finally, the polar ice caps. “All these complex areas also affect maritime transport, starting for example with the congestion of certain ports”he says.

In France, the Ministry of the Armed Forces has long been aware of the operational added value of a capability space signals intelligence. This is why it developed and put into orbit the constellation of three CERES satellites. However, Unseenlabs considers that it has its place on the French market. Private companies can provide additional capacity to the ministry. Thus, the startup is already working with the French Navy. “Our objective is to show that we have clean and useful data to be in addition” the capacity of the ministry. And it works with the national navy. “We worked cleanly and hand in hand with the French Navy to develop suitable products. And it paid off”says Clément Galic.

New target markets

The RF market is incredibly exciting for Unseenlabs. “RF has the good taste to create new markets”rejoices the boss of Unseenlab, who is in the aftermath. “There are all the other markets that we will be able to open with the RF. The maritime market is only a first step. It has allowed us to establish our credibility. It is a very important market, which exists , but we already have plenty of projects in mind to develop new products”. Which ? Clément Galic does not wish to reveal these areas of development for the moment. “We are working on it and we will announce it when the products are ready. It’s our way of doing things”, he explains. Unseenlabs could launch into new markets very quickly. From 2023. “It is the objective”he assures.

But already, Unseenlabs is also interested in markets related to the detection of radiofrequency signals on land. “We are also going to look at what is happening on land. Our technologies are perfectly suited to bring added value to new markets other than the maritime industry”, he agrees to explain. The markets pursued could be land transport, the identification of human activities in hard-to-reach areas, monitoring during natural disasters or the monitoring of land networks. “There is a lot of business that can be done with RF. This technology globally makes it possible to measure human activity”he recalls.

Getting stronger in data processing

Finally, Unseenlabs wants to strengthen and develop all the analytical part (data analysis, processing and advice from spatial data) from RF. An emerging market “gigantic”, believes Clément Galic. Especially in the United States. “It’s impressive to see how far the United States is ahead of us in terms of the use of space data”says Clément Galic, who was present at the GEOINT show in Denver (April 24-27). “All companies involved in data processing now have in mind to do projects with RF. It has become almost essential”he observes.

The Rennes startup, which is already on this market, is naturally developing on its war chest, RF. However, the Rennes startup also wants to forge partnerships in this area with companies to reach many more customers. “Unseenlabs brings the RF brick to partners, which we believe are the best in this fieldhe says. They therefore have access to our very high quality RF in their solutions and are thus able to complete their data.”. Win-win. The Unseenlabs nugget is really on a launch pad.