Mission Space is the latest space startup being pulled into the orbit of Luxembourg’s growing space tech ecosystem. As the startup prepares to open its headquarters at the Luxembourg-City Incubator, COO and co-founder Artem Axelrod talked to Silicon Luxembourg about the space weather centre of excellence he wants to create in Luxembourg.
Luxembourg has made a mark in the high cost, high risk industry of satellite operations. From the foundations of SES to new space players, an impressive amount of satellite tech has Luxembourg links. So when things go wrong, the impact on the local ecosystem can be costly. “Based on our research, satellite operators have lost over $950 million worth of satellites in the last five years,” says Mission Space COO and co-founder Artem Axelrod, adding that space weather conditions are key among the causes. One of the most high profile examples of a project impacted by space weather was Starlink, a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX, which lost 40 out of 49 satellites due to a geomagnetic storm in February, resulting in approximately $100 million of losses.
Mission Space was founded in Latvia in 2020 by Ksenia Moskalenko, CEO, Alex Pospekhov, vice president strategy, and father and son team Artem and Dmitry Axelrod, who are COO and CTO respectively. It serves a demand for tools to monitor space weather in the increasingly cluttered low earth orbit. Its software solutions provide early warnings enabling customers to save their assets before a storm hits.
At the heart of the firm’s space weather intelligence system will be payloads that monitor high energy particles or protons and electrons in LEO. On top of that, the team has developed a data modelling and software element. It uses its own as well as third-party data to deliver it in a usable format that can deliver analysis, predictions, warnings and other intelligence.
“[…] we believe that we’ll be starting establishing the space weather centre of excellence at the end of 2023, beginning of 2024.”
First payload 2023
Mission Space plans to launch its first payload in January 2023, by which time its cloud platform offering closed data for customers is expected to be operational in beta version. “Then we’ll be able to actually start selling the analytics we will be generating,” the COO explained.
Mission Space is among the laureates of the 2021 Fit 4 Start accelerator programme organised by the Luxembourg economy ministry and Luxinnovation, a programme whose mentors and staff Axelrod praised highly. “If not for them, certainly we would not be at the stage we are right now,” he said.
Mission Space now plans to open its headquarters at the LCI in Luxembourg and eventually move its entire team from Riga, Latvia, to the grand duchy.
“We are currently fundraising and part of the funds that we will raise will be spent on relocating operations to Luxembourg,” the COO said.
Space Weather Centre for Excellence
Longer term, Mission Space wants to apply its intelligence capabilities to other areas where space weather presents a substantial safety risk, such as space tourism and high altitude aviation.
It looks to work more closely with satellite insurers and it hopes to make Luxembourg a magnet for space weather R&D through the creation of a Space Weather Centre for Excellence.
“Our goal is to have 24 sets of detectors on LEO on 24 different satellites. This will allow us to provide those real time global space weather coverage with short term warnings on different events. And the timeframe for this is the end of 2024. But we believe that we’ll be starting establishing the space weather centre of excellence at the end of 2023, beginning of 2024,” Axelrod said.
Mission Space is among 10 Luxembourg startups to have a stand at the Luxembourg pavilion at VivaTech Paris from 15-18 June.