After raising a record $140 million last December, the Californian startup aims to make Toulouse its most important hub.
Make space accessible to everyone! This is the objective of the Franco-American space startup, Loft Orbital, based in Toulouse and San Francisco. She received a visit last week from Carole Delga, the president of the Occitanie Region.
A meeting which comes a few days after the successful launch of its third satellite, YAM-5, on January 3, aboard SpaceX Falcon 9 as part of the “Transporter 6” mission.
Double the Toulouse workforce
Loft Orbital provides its customers with satellite platforms capable of accommodating payloads for various missions: Earth observation, telecoms, internet of things… In full ascent, the start-up wants to double its workforce in Toulouse .
“Between our historic office in San Francisco, our site dedicated to assembly in Colorado and Toulouse, centered on R&D, we are a team that fluctuates between 135 and 140 employees. In 2023, if we reach our recruitment objectives, the Toulouse pole will become the most important with 80 employees”, explains Alex Greenberg, one of the co-founders. *
And to have the means for its ambitions, Loft Orbital carried out, last December, a record fundraising of $140 million, notably from the BlackRock fund and BPI France. An operation which allows the startup to enlarge the Toulouse site in order to accommodate this XXL team. “We were starting to feel a bit cramped in our premises in Compans Caffarelli at At Home. Next week, we will move into our new headquarters in Jeanne d’Arc”, explains Lucas Bremond, engineer at Loft Orbital.
The choice of the city was not made at random. The nugget of newspace is counting on the attractiveness of Occitania, the leading space region in Europe (12,600 employees out of 33,200), to attract new talent.
A speed race
And if today the Loft Orbital site in Colorado is the only one to have a “clean room”, necessary for the complete assembly of the satellites, “the objective is to have one also in Toulouse. It’s just a question of timing”, reveals Lucas Bremond.
Founded in 2017 in San Francisco in the United States, by the French Antoine de Chassy and Pierre-Damien Vaujour and the American Alex Greenberg, the original model of Loft Orbital is to host different services on the same satellite on behalf of several customers.
“The idea is to go from two launches this year, then three next year to ten in 2025 to also be the fastest to fly”, hopes Lucas Bremond. The advantage of Loft Orbital is to be able to put a satellite into orbit only four months after the signature of the contract against several years today.
Building on its success, Loft Orbital wants to unite regional players around a new satellite constellation project. Baptized Eklipse, the objective is to position itself on the “Space Cloud” market.
“It is a question of French and European sovereignty”, explains Gautier Brunet, head of development in Europe at Loft Orbital. In addition to connectivity (IoT), Eklipse wants to provide France with Earth observation capacity.