Canadian startup NorthStar Earth & Space has ended its three-year contract with Thales Alenia Space in favour of a space-as-a-service model contract with Spire Global, according to Space Intel Report which first reported the news.
In an email on 5 January the space situational awareness (SSA) service provider reportedly said it will be “using Spire satellites for the constellation using their space-as-a-service model. There are no more plans to build the satellites with TAS [Thales Alenia Space].”
Northstar’s contract with Thales Alenia Space, which is also a shareholder in NorthStar, was announced in October 2020 but subsequently, in March last year, the company announced a contract with Spire. The contract covered the development of the first three 12U cubesats of its 24-satellite constellation. The cubesats, to be launched in 2023, will collect SSA data for Northstar. Spire is a newspace company that provides satellite data on through a subscription model.
The news comes on the heels of a Series C fundraising round in which the start-up secured US$35 million. The round was led by Cartesian Capital Group, a private equity company based in the US. Other investors included Telesystem Space, the Luxembourg Future Fund and the Government of Quebec. Northstar’s CEO Stewart Bain said the latest round brings its fundraising total, to date, to almost US$100 million.
According to Northstar, the lucrative start to the New Year will help accelerate the commercialisation of its SSA services.
The new funding, and change in contracts, comes as the SSA company prepares to launch the first three satellites of its constellation of 24 satellites. They are set to be launched in mid-2023 by Virgin Orbit. The company hopes to be the first commercial organisation to monitor all near-Earth orbits from space for space object detection, tracking, orbit determination, collision avoidance and navigation.