Aerospace Startup Business Umbra Locks Down $32 Million

By James White Thursday, April 29, 2021

Satellite technology is responsible for gathering key data for business operations in numerous industries. From agriculture and environmental monitoring to military and defense imaging, radar satellites play an essential role in data collection. Advancements in radar satellite technology has allowed for new business opportunities to emerge as hardware becomes more compact and powerful. Startup aerospace company Umbra recently closed a $32 million funding round for its powerful microsatellites equipped with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology.

Earth planet and satellite view from space.

“Umbra has been on the inside looking out, which gave us an advantage with the United States government and primes, ultimately allowing us to win important contracts critical to future space architectures,” said David Langan, co-founder and CEO of the aerospace startup company.

Funding for the aerospace startup business was led by Nimble Ventures. Investors including CrossCut Ventures, Starbridge Ventures, Hemisphere Ventures, and PonValley also showed support for the startup aerospace company in the latest financing round, among others. In 2019, Umbra closed a $10 million seed round for its business, also backed by CrossCut Ventures, Starbridge Ventures, and Hemisphere Ventures. According to Crunchbase, the startup business has raised over $44 million from investors to date.

The newest capital raised for the startup company will help Umbra expand customer support options for its satellites with features including pilot programs and direct satellite access.

SAR Imaging in Any Weather, at Any Time

Founded by Langan alongside entrepreneur and long-time friend Gabe Dominocielo, the Santa Barbara-based aerospace startup company is establishing a constellation of microsatellites with powerful SAR imaging capabilities. SAR imaging technology allows the startup company to capture detailed two-dimensional images and create 3D reconstructions of objects or landscapes.

Microsatellites produced by Umbra are lightweight and compact, allowing the devices to rideshare with other orbital spacecraft via an adapter. Each microsatellite is equipped with a powerful antenna capable of resolving objects smaller than 25 centimeters. Umbra satellites function at a long range, allowing the aerospace company to provide wide coverage with fewer spacecraft.

Umbra sets itself apart from other imaging satellites by building devices that can capture images in any weather condition. Images can be taken through cloud cover, fog, smoke or even in total darkness.

“When we embarked on the commercial business it was clear – Umbra needed to invent something new to create value for our customers.” said Dominocielo, CSO at the startup aerospace company. “Our proprietary technology improves satellite performance, data quality, and can collect many areas of interest in high resolution, which allows us to offer lower prices.”

Capturing the SAR Imaging Industry

Market research projects the global SAR industry to reach $4.98 billion by 2027 at a CAGR of 10.7%. The aerospace startup business is targeting a growing industry. By producing microsatellites that are powerful but compact, Umbra will likely pursue partnerships with a number of private aerospace companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX or Rocket Lab for ridesharing services. Furthermore, the aerospace startup has agreements in place to use its constellation of satellites for the US government and commercial geospatial intelligence firms.

About the Author

Headshot for author James White

James White is a Michigan State University graduate with a B.S. in Environmental Biology. He is interested in reporting emerging trends in technology, especially with regard to alternative energy and environmental conservation.

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