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Google joins spacetech startup Pixxel’s $36 Mn Series B round

Homegrown spacetech startup Pixxel has raised $36 million in a series B funding round from new investors such as Google, along with returning investors Radical Ventures, Lightspeed, Blume Ventures, GrowX, Sparta, and Athera.

The latest round brings Pixxel’s total venture funding to $71 million. The spacetech startup scooped up $25 million in a series A funding in March 2022. 

Pixxel said new funds will help advance its efforts to build what it claims to be the world’s first and highest-resolution hyperspectral satellite constellation, which is aimed at delivering actionable climate insights on a larger scale. 

The funds will also be used to develop Aurora, the start-up’s AI-powered analytics platform, which aims to make hyperspectral imagery analysis accessible to everyone.

Pixxel is also gearing up to launch as many as six satellites in 2024, and 18 other satellites by 2025. 

Founded by Awais Ahmed and Kshitij Khandelwal, Pixxel is developing hyperspectral imagery satellites, which take a spectrum of light and divides it into hundreds of narrow spectral bands so one can better understand and discern anything on the planet. 

The startup claims that its hyperspectral constellation and advanced data analytics platform will provide up to 10x more information than current multispectral satellites in space and increase the resolution by 50x. 

In February this year, Pixxel unveiled the first set of hyperspectral images from its satellites, capturing intricate details of the land and water features of regions such as Krishna River Delta (India), Palm Islands (Dubai), Super pit (Australia), Saloum River Delta (Senegal), Granny Smith Gold Mine (Australia) and Brockman (Australia). 

In April 2022, Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket carried a low-orbit imaging satellite developed by the Bengaluru-based startup. Pixxel has so far worked with several prominent space agencies, including ISRO and NASA. In November 2022, an ISRO rocket carried and deployed Pixxel’s Anand, which was the company’s third hyperspectral satellite. 

Pixxel joins a growing list of tech startups that are looking to tap into the space sector, which was valued at $9.6 billion in 2020. The Indian space sector, however, contributes mere 2% to 3% of the global space economy, according to a report. This opens up a big opportunity for the private space-focused startups, which have received the government backing as well. Moreover, the size of the sector is expected to be worth $13 billion by 2025. As of December 2022, India had more than 100 space-focused startups. 

In addition to Pixxel, other homegrown spacetech startups that have gained traction are   Agnikul Cosmos, Skyroot Aerospace, Dhruva, Digantara, SatSure and Vesta Space among others. 

That said, it is also Google’s first investment in an Indian spacetech startup. The tech giant has invested in quite a few Indian startups over the years – Practo, CarDekho, Dunzo, DotPe, and ProgCap. 

In December 2022, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, shared his positive outlook on the Indian startup ecosystem, expressing optimism for its future prospects. Additionally, he announced a commitment to invest $75 million in Indian startups led by women.

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