Micro-satellite specialist Umbra raise USD32m in venture funding

Umbra, a Santa Barbara-based intelligence and technology company, has raised USD32 million in an equity financing led by the family office venture fund of John Burbank, founder of hedge fund Passport Capital.

The company's existing investors - CrossCut Ventures, Starbridge Ventures, Hemisphere Ventures, PonValley, and others – also participated.

Umbra is the inventor of a micro-satellite that can see through clouds, at night, in high resolution (<25 cm GSD). The company has agreements to deliver data to the United States government and commercial geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) firms.

Umbra was founded with a contract from a prime aerospace and defence firm, and  used this capital to build hardware for its commercial mission without equity financing, and to remain American owned, controlled, and operated.

David Langan, Umbra’s CEO, says: “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.”

Umbra has built and developed multiple satellites since its formation and has plans to continue manufacturing spacecraft and begin launching satellites for commercial missions this year.

“When we embarked on the commercial business it was clear – Umbra needed to invent something new to create value for our customers,” says Gabe Dominocielo, Umbra’s co-founder.

Recently, the company was granted a patent for its deployable antenna, which allows the company to launch multiple satellites on a SpaceX rideshare. Umbra’s antenna is supported by 1200 MHz bandwidth radar. The spacecraft has an ability to resolve objects smaller than 25 centimetres from space and can acquire targets at very long ranges, meaning Umbra only needs a single satellite, not dozens, to outperform existing or known planned satellite architecture. 

Dominocielo, says: “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.” 

Umbra expects to be the only provider of these types of radar products in the United States and will be selling this 25-centimetre imagery commercially with its issued NOAA license.

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