SpaceFund has revealed their recent impact investment in Hydrosat. While the company considers almost any investment in opening the Frontier to be an impact investment, Hydrosat fits neatly into the center of what many beyond the space movement consider as a company whose work will have a direct impact on human life.
To maximize the output of farmlands, it is critical that farmers have the maximum amount of data about the health of their crops. Hydrosat’s unique data and analytical capabilities provide the vital information growers need, proven to increase crop yields and conserve water.
Satellite imagery is the most cost-effective way to gather information about farming conditions, but the existing sensors in space provide data that are only lagging indicators of crop health. In other words, current information provides insight into what has happened in a given field, whereas Hydrosat’s information is predictive about what will happen in the future, thus allowing farmers to calibrate their plans and improve outcomes.
Hydrosat’s thermal infrared sensor is the key to this capability. Today, many companies use a calculation from data available for free from NASA satellites called Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), to provide farmers with information about their crops, but it has limitations as a predictive tool. Hydrosat is launching a new thermal infrared sensor to collect temperature data that will increase the predictive power of satellite imagery in agriculture and other industries.
In July of 2020, Hydrosat received a 3.735 million euros contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) “to develop an operational processor that meets commercial requirements for agriculture, in both crop yield estimations and irrigation decision support applications.”
The company also received $798,519 in SBIR grants from the U.S. Air Force to use LEO thermal imagery with higher resolution and faster repeat cycle, providing better and more up-to-date information for flight planners. “This would ensure better mission safety to our Airmen while protecting multi-million dollar assets from poor landing conditions. The Hydrosat solution is being designed to serve the agriculture industry, yet its capabilities are also aligned with Air Force needs, allowing the Service to benefit from a system that would spread cost and risk while accelerating development.”
The company expects to launch its first sensor aboard a SpaceX rocket in Q4 2022, with Loft Orbital working as the satellite bus provider and integration partner.