Finnish satellite maker Iceye recently announced the establishment of its U.S. headquarters in Irvine, amidst a hotbed of other aerospace activity.
The company plans to have a presence on the east and west coast by mid-2021. It will use its Irvine location as a manufacturing hub for its imaging satellites, which it says can generate clear images of Earth even through dense cloud cover.
Established in 2015, the company has quickly grown as satellite technology enables construction of smaller craft, which are cheaper to launch into orbit. Iceye plans to add dozens of staff, listing each job opening on its website.
“With our new production facility in the U.S., we will add significant next-generation capabilities to our space and ground segments,” said Jerry Welsh, CEO of Iceye U.S. in a news release. “This will provide us with the most reliable operational foundation, and give us the flexibility and efficiency to best accommodate the requirements of our U.S. government customers.”
The satellite market has boomed in recent years, carried upward by large investments in huge constellations of communications satellites. Iceye’s new foothold in the U.S. will allow it to more effectively compete for U.S. government contracts, and give it close proximity to Vandenberg Space Force Base on the central coast.
Satellites have long been expensive to build and risky to deploy to space. Often built in clean rooms, communications craft launched into space have to be meticulously handled and transported.
“It’s really persnickety electronics,” said Paul Weisbrick, Aerospace, defense and space investment banker at D.A. Davidson Companies. “Something always goes wrong. At the top of these rockets is a Fabergé egg. They’re one of a kind.”