French SSA startup Aldoria raises $10.9 million

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WASHINGTON — A French startup developing a space situational awareness (SSA) system has raised $10.9 million to build out its tracking network.

Aldoria, a company previously known as Share My Space, announced Jan. 23 it raised 10 million euros ($10.9 million) in a Series A round. Starquest Capital, a French venture fund, led the round, with participation from the European Innovation Council Fund, the French government’s Deeptech 2030 fund, Expansion Ventures, Space Founders France and Wind Capital.

The company currently operates a network of six optical telescopes that track objects in orbit. The funding will be used in part to expand that network to 12 telescopes by 2025, said Romain Lucken, chief executive of Aldoria, in an interview.

The company also wants to enhance its systems for processing the data from those telescopes and identifying potential conjunctions. “The core of our development is really to strengthen and industrialize this orbital information system, as we call it, to be able to process more data and to secure the collection, processing and distribution of the data and services,” he said.

Aldoria plans to invest in research and development for SSA. “We have to develop other types of sensors to be to be able to enhance our revisits and to better characterize objects,” he said. That the work will be a combination of in-house development and partnerships with others, such as the French aerospace research center ONERA, which is working on radar tracking technologies.

Lucken said the strongest demand for its services comes from governments. That includes the European Union Space Surveillance and Tracking, or EU SST, network, as well as the European Space Agency and French space agency CNES. There is a “strong interest” from the U.S. government as well, he said, including the Traffic Coordination System for Space, or TraCSS, being developed by the Office of Space Commerce.

Aldoria also has several private customers, including Airbus, Thales Alenia Space and Astroscale, although Lucken said his company gets more revenue from government customers.

The funding round comes as there is growing interest in space sustainability in Europe. ESA rolled out a “Zero Debris Charter” last year where signatories pledge not to create debris in space, while the E.U. is developing a new space law that may also address orbital debris.

That interest helped support Aldoria’s financing round. Starquest, the lead investor, follows what is known in the E.U. as Article 9 of the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, which mandates investments towards sustainable objectives. “Funds that follow Article 9 of this regulation need to invest in companies that that contribute to protecting the environment,” Lucken said. “So, basically, we benefit from green finance. That’s something new that we bring to the space sector.”

He added, though, that European government need to balance sustainability regulations with supporting the broader European space industry. “If we don’t have a strong and competitive European space economy as a whole, is going to be hard for us to thrive, so we don’t want to make it too hard for European customers,” he said.

The company also used the funding round to change its name from Share My Space. “People were confused when we said the name of the company,” Lucken said, particularly in the United States. Aldoria is an old name for the Pleaides star cluster, but Lucken noted it has roots in alto, or altitude, and auria, or gold.

“So it’s the gold of the sky,” he said. “It’s protecting precious assets in space and protecting orbital resources.”

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