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Thermal imaging startup Satellite Vu closes $15.8 million ahead of first launch

British startup Satellite Vu has raised £12.7 million ($15.8 million) to develop what it calls “the world’s thermometer”: a satellite constellation capable of monitoring thermal emissions around the world.

The Series A-2 round was led by Molten Ventures, with participation from Seraphim Space, A/O Proptech, Lockheed Martin, Ridgeline Ventures, Earth Sciences Foundation and Stellar Ventures. All of these investors have previously contributed to Satellite Vu. The company has now raised £30.5 million ($37.7 million) to date, including a £1 million ($1.2 million) grant from the U.K. Space Agency’s National Space Innovation Program.

The London-based startup is developing technology to gather high-definition thermal data from space. The satellites will be able to measure heat emitted from individual buildings, data that the company says can be used to help businesses and governments enact more energy-efficient solutions.

Being able to locate and measure thermal energy output will be essential to achieving net-zero carbon emissions, the company says.

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Satellite Vu will be sending its first spacecraft to orbit, a bird built in partnership with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd., in June on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare mission. The satellite will be able to collect imagery and video at a resolution of 3.5 meters per pixel.

The seven-year-old company has customer commitments valued at over £128 million ($160 million) via its early access option program, which gives customers preferred access to imagery and the option to secure satellite capacity. Companies that have joined the program include Japan Space Imaging Corporation and analytics company Kayrros. Those funds should start transitioning to revenue from the fourth quarter of this year.

“Their $160m in early commitments is a stellar model of pre-launch sales for deep-tech companies, which other climate-tech firms could emulate,” George Chalmers, Molten Ventures’ head of climate tech, said in a statement.

The new funding was an "up round," according to Satellite Vu, or a round in which the company’s valuation increased. The company will return to fundraising its Series B after its first launch.