CrossCut Ventures and Starbrige Ventures recently announced an investment in Umbra Lab. Umbra Lab, known for being extremely secretive, declined to make a comment.
SpaceNews recently published a story “…Meet the radar mafia” in which SAR companies proclaimed themselves the “SAR Mafia.” A photo was released with the article featuring executives from every commercial SAR satellite provider except for Umbra Lab. In the article, SpaceNews revealed Umbra Lab was venture funded last year in an unknown series of funding. CrossCut Ventures (post) and Starbridge Ventures (post) wrote about Umbra Lab in separate blog posts and Umbra Lab’s website now features the logos of five venture capital firms.
If the status quo of the SAR commercial industry is being dubbed the “SAR mafia,” Umbra Lab’s investors are describing Umbra Lab as the Illuminati, a secretive organization which has SAR technology unlike anyone else in the industry.
CrossCut claims Umbra Lab’s spacecraft costs in the “single-digit millions” with a resolution and a performance capability higher than any existing SAR satellite, including the recently launched €160M, PAZ satellite. CrossCut Ventures explains, “Data of this quality is a quantum leap over any existing satellite, including multi-$100m dollar nation-state level satellites.”
SAR startups, with the exception of Umbra Lab, have not provided performance metrics such as NESZ in conjunction with statements regarding resolution or frequent revisit. As a result, the established SAR industry has rebuffed new space SAR missions as very low performance, believing they will not provide large amounts of quality imagery under 5 meters which represents 99% of the multi-billion dollar earth observation market (read more).
Earlier this year, when asked about micro/mini-satellites and their performance, Massimo Claudio Comparini, CEO of e-GEOS said: “I think those new systems will be an important complement to the high-end, high-performance sensors, not at all a possible replacement.”
Starbridge Ventures candidly provided the following information about the Umbra Lab’s system: low NESZ, fine resolution, and 12 satellites with hourly revisits in high resolution. This information means very little to the majority of the population, but speaks volumes to the credibility of a SAR mission. Hourly revisits at 1-meter resolution while maintaining -18dB, indicates a true leap in resolution, cost and performance capabilities. In all fairness to Comparini, he was quoted before the Umbra Lab funding announcement.
Image Credit: Umbra Lab’s Facebook Page