Meet The U.S. and Russian Venture Capitalists Behind PanGeo Satellite Alliance

Posted: November 14, 2014 in Econ 101, Sanctions on Russia Meaningless, Technology and Energy



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This VC Is Helping Space Exploration Become A ‘Multi-Billion’ Industry

Spend a few minutes talking to space tech venture capitalists Ilya Golubovich and Mike Lousteau of I2BF Global Ventures, and you’ll feel psyched about the future of humanity.

Known as green tech investors, Golubovich, based in Moscow, and Lousteau, in New York, have fallen in love with the nascent space industry. They’ve backed three space companies so far: Dauria Aerospace, Planetary Resources and CloudEO, with more on the way, making them one of most active space tech investors on Earth.

Sure, they see space as a huge financial opportunity, “a multi-billion market, it can be even bigger,” as Golubovich describes.

But it’s also an industry filled with visionary entrepreneurs and they now see space tech as much bigger than just money; it’s the next step in human development.

They began their space journey by backing a company called Planetary Resources. It has the sci-fi mission of trying to mine asteroids for minerals. It is building its own drone spacecraft to do this and, along the way, inventing a lot of technology that it licenses to everyone from NASA to medical device manufacturers.

“One of our first investments was Planetary Resources co-founded by Eric Anderson, Diamandis, two visionaries. With this type of innovation, their market can be in the trillions, mining precious metals on nearby asteroids,” says Golubovich. I2BF was an investor in the company’s $1.5 million seed round.  Planetary Resources also had a successful Kickstarter campaign and has some other high profile backers,  like Sir Richard Branson.

It’s not just the rare earth metals, like gold, that will be the boon for asteroid mining. It’s everyday stuff like water. By extracting water from asteroids, asteroids can become a water source for space missions.

“A standard bottle of water can cost $50,000 in orbit when you factor in the costs of getting it there. Imagine if you had water in space? You can enable a new scale of space exploration,” Golubovich says.

I2BF Mike Lousteau

I2BFI2BF’s Mike Lousteau

Living in Moscow, running a $350 million fund, much of it from wealthy Soviet Union families, Golubovich realized he was in a unique position to do more with space tech.

“The Russian space program is very strong. It’s been around as long or longer than the U.S. program. There are all these guys, mostly at government institutions, looking at SpaceX, and Planet Labs getting millions of dollars in stock options. I thought it would be great to get these guys together have them share benefits like a Russian equivalent of SpaceX,” Golubovich says.

His partner Lousteau laughs, “Golubovich began chasing space startups down saying, ‘I want to give you money. Where are things right now?'”

That’s how they founded Dauria Aerospace, which is building low-cost satellites, launching them into space and letting anyone write apps for them. I2BF has invested $20 million of the company’s total $30 raised. (It’s not the only one working on this. San Francisco-based Planet Labs is doing a similar thing, and has raised $62 million).

Dauria’s founder, Mikhail Kokorich, made his money selling TVs and refridgerator, “Like a Russian Best Buy,” Golubovich describes. He sold that company and used the cash to bootstrap his dream space startup. He’s known in the region like the Russian Elon Musk, Golubovich says.

Next up for these investors: big data space software. Their newest investment, CloudEO (investment amount not yet disclosed), fits in here.

CloudEO collects vast amounts of data from various satellites and lets anyone write geo-location apps with that. Those are apps that can track your location and use that to help the app, whether its finding a parking spot or documenting your photos.

And after that? Not even the sky is the limit.

“This is the last great frontier, with a lot of personalities around it, daring to make something new,” adds Lousteau.

“In the tech sector, you have people staring at screens in their hands,” he adds. “That’s interesting. But you can you go mine an asteroid! It’s not as crazy as it sounds. The base principals and the tech really does exist.”


Pangeo Alliance:
A Unique Earth Observation Constellation


The PanGeo Alliance is the first global alliance of Earth Observation satellite operators. With four members, the Alliance provides access to imagery and tasking opportunities from a unique and growing fleet of Earth Observation satellites.

PanGeo multi-satellite mission planning gives customers access to imaging from all Alliance satellites as well as a connection to directly request tasked imagery from the operator.

The fleet encompasses multispectral imagery in a range of resolutions (from 20m to 75cm per pixel), and a daily global imaging capability. PanGeo coordinates access to each member’s archive so that each member can see what is available and directly request images from the entire Alliance archive.
All PanGeo Alliance members can provide access to the full products portfolio of the whole satellite fleet. Customers benefit from a global network of resellers and a unified access point to new tasking and archive imagery.
pangeo_links_EIAST pangeo_links_Dauria pangeo_links_elecnor pangeo_links_eye
9 satellites now >20 to be launched Medium Resolution
1 satellite in orbit
>8 to be launched
High Resolution
3Satellites in orbit
>10 to be launched
Very High Resolution
2 satellites in orbit
1 to be launched
3 satellites in orbit
medium_resolution high_resolution very_high_resolution ais_resolution
Deimos 1
Perseus 0
Beijing Space
Eye Innovation
Deimos 2
Dauria DX
Perseus M 1-2
Country Spain US/Russia US/Russia UAE China Spain UAE UAE US/Russia US/Russia
Type Optical MR Optical MR Optical HR Optical HR Optical HR Optical VHR Optical VHR Optical VHR AIS AIS
Launch 2009 2015 2017 2009 2010/2012 2014 2013 2017 2014 2014
Local TimeAN 10:30 10:30 10:30 10:30 10:30 10:30 22:00 22:00 10:30 10:30
Lifetime 10 years >5 years >5 years >5 years 7 years 7 years 7 years 7 years >5 years >5 years
Agility ± 25º ± 25º ± 45º ± 30º ± 45º ± 45º ± 45º
Spatial Resolution 20m 20m 2.5m 2.5m 2.0m 0.75m 0.75m 0.5m
Spectral Bands 3 3 5 Pan + 4 Pan + 4 Pan + 4 Pan + 4 Pan + 4
Swath 650km 220km 25km 20km 60km 12/24km 12/24km 16km

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