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September 20, 2021

Startup Near Space Labs Raises $13 Million To Launch More Mapping Balloons Into The Stratosphere

Growing up in Yerevan, Armenia, Rema Matevosyan and her amateur astronomer grandparents enjoyed heading outside in the middle of the night, paper map carefully marked, to observe the stars. Now as CEO of geospatial data startup Near Space Labs, her technology takes her close.

While the billionaire space race has helped spur a wave of interest in companies looking to travel, manufacture and mine off-planet, Near Space is focused a little bit closer, in the stratosphere. There, Matevosyan’s startup collects geospatial data through small autonomous robots attached to weather balloons, a contraption it calls the Swifty, capturing up to 1,000 square kilometers of imagery each flight from more than 60,000 feet up. The process is cheaper – and carries a much lower carbon footprint – than flying a special plane or launching a satellite, Matevosyan says. But its data sets could prove just as valuable to insurers, governments and disaster recovery, and autonomous vehicle operators alike.

“We are a very rebellious Earth imaging company when everyone is launching satellite constellations,” Matevosyan says. “Don’t get me wrong, they’re beautiful devices. But with the rapid adoption of our product and our rapid growth wherever we’ve deployed, it speaks to the dire need for this data that we are providing.”

Now, with more than 150 flights completed, Brooklyn- and Barcelona-based Near Space is raising a $13 million Series A funding round led by Crosslink Capital, with Toyota Ventures and existing investors Leadout Capital and Wireframe Ventures joining in. Read rest here