Unseenlabs, the Breton SME that traces the movements of ships from space

Shortly before midnight on Friday, April 14, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, for its Transporter 7 mission, carrying dozens of small, micro, and nanosatellites for private and government customers. Among them, BRO-9, acronym for Breizh Reconnaissance Orbiter, no bigger than a shoebox and weighing about fifteen kilos. This satellite is the ninth in the constellation deployed for three years by the Breton SME Unseenlabs to scan the oceans and maritime traffic.

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Based in Rennes, the company founded in 2015 specializes in maritime surveillance by radio frequency from space using technology developed by Jonathan Galic, one of the three founding brothers of the company alongside Clement and Benjamin. While three satellites are needed to locate an object, by triangulation, “we only need one”, explains the CEO, Clément Galic. That’s a huge price advantage, and we even have superior accuracy, in the order of a kilometer, which is very accurate when you’re talking about oceans.”

With its satellites, which are in fact antennas, Unseenlabs proposes to detect and trace the movements of boats, each with its own radio frequency. This geolocation makes it possible to fight “against illegal activities at sea, such as fishing, smuggling, piracy or pollution. The countries concerned then have a very clear vision of what is happening and know where to intervene”underlines the leader.

Work for the defense sector

The main interested parties are the national navies, customs, coastguards, but also insurance companies. Two years after the commercial launch of its services, the company achieved 10 million in turnover in 2022, mainly from foreign customers. And to support its growth, Unseenlabs plans to increase its workforce from around fifty to at least seventy employees in 2023.

“We are in a market in creation, which will develop”, appreciates Clément Galic. The world’s leading supplier of data and radio frequency solutions for maritime surveillance, the Breton firm currently has only one competitor, HawkEye 360, an American company also created in 2015. Based in Virginia, the he company, which does a lot of work for the defense sector, launched three additional satellites in January, bringing the number of those in service to eighteen. Its goal is to have a constellation of 60 elements by 2025.

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