In the loud and crowded world of satellites, start-up LeoLabs is working toward offering both governments and companies alike a solution to cut through the noise.
Tens of thousands of objects fly around the Earth many times faster than a bullet, capable of destroying billions of dollars in equipment. LeoLabs wants to offer an infrastructure of equipment and software to enhance the eyes on the sky with a new source of risk-assessment data.
"Ninety-five percent of the risk of being hit by a piece of debris is not being tracked," CEO Dan Ceperley told CNBC.
LeoLabs' most recent round of funding raised $13 million, with Airbus Ventures and WERU Investment leading the round, joined by Space Angels and Horizons Ventures. The cash means LeoLabs will begin building next-generation ground systems overseas, adding to the two it has in Midland, Texas and Fairbanks, Alaska. "Starting next year," Ceperley said, these phased-array radar ground systems "will be providing the information that makes tracking that debris possible."
"You're looking at the first company trying to accomplish a Google Maps around the Earth," Airbus Ventures partner Julien Etaix told CNBC.
LeoLabs estimates there are about 250,000 pieces of debris orbiting the Earth that are both not tracked and potentially disastrous if they collide with a satellite. The U.S. military is tracking about 23,000 objects in space around the Earth, according to AGI, a company which provides software to commercial and government entities to analyze and track objects. AGI estimates the current public catalogs only account for about 4 percent of the objects in space around the Earth.