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Open Cosmos disrupts the space industry with its one-stop-shop approach to orbit

Open the cosmos

It all started with a photo.

Rafael Jordá Siquier and several other aerospace students from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Barcelona planned to send a high-resolution camera into the earth’s atmosphere in 2010.

You would then photograph the curvature of the earth.

When the camera rose in a capsule hanging from a balloon, sensors relayed the distance from the earth back to the ground. The balloon reached a height of 35 km, a point in the stratosphere where 98% of the earth’s atmosphere is below. The camera controlled from the ground began to snap.

Open the cosmos

When the images returned to Earth, the students were delighted to see that the photo had captured the phenomenon known as the “overview effect.” What surprised them even more, however, was that they did it for less than $ 100.

At that point, Jordá Siquier had an aha moment.

“I managed to take a picture like the International Space Station,” thought Jordá Siquier. Why don’t companies also offer simple, affordable space missions?

It was another five years before Jordá Siquier went on and found Open the cosmos, a one-stop shop for space missions with nanosatellites that takes into account all technology, documentation and costs.

In this way, over the past three years, he has opened the space industry to a much wider range of participants. This was highlighted just this week by Open Cosmos in partnership with the European Space Agency to launch a competition to allow organizations to put their payload into orbit (see below).

The democratization of space missions

Despite six decades of high-profile manned spaceflights and landings on distant planets, the space industry is actually rather traditional, slow, and expensive.

“Big players are not interested in democratizing access to the tools,” says Jordá Siquier.

The space industry produces unique satellites for special requirements. Different companies produce different parts of a satellite. Others solve a problem for one sector but not another. No operator offered an end-to-end service.

Open the cosmos

Jordá Siquier’s idea was to build a standard nanosatellite that would be compatible with the existing technology of its customers, and to deal with all issues related to testing, insurance, rollout and logistics.

Traditional launches cost millions and take eight years, but Open Cosmos economies of scale will bring the price down from an average of 2 million euros to 500,000 euros as the nanosatellite is ready to go within six months.

Size of the market

If you’re a local government agency looking to predict where the next devastating fire could break out or an NGO looking to provide humanitarian aid, how do you collect the data quickly?

Or if you are a company looking to test your product in microgravity or a telecommunications company looking to provide service to a remote area, how can you do it cheaply?

Businesses, research institutes and organizations are now realizing that in order to solve their specific problems they must approach problems from a global perspective.

“We wanted to make it so easy that people from sectors other than the aerospace industry could use it,” says Jordá Siquier.

This change of perspective is reflected in the forecast growth in market size. The Teal Group found that more than 12,000 satellites will be launched between 2018 and 2037. This corresponds to a 42% increase in the number calculated for the 2017 20-year outlook, and an astonishing 140% compared to 2016.


Jordá Siquier comes from a small village on the Spanish island of Mallorca where his parents are doctors.

“I was crazy about a lot of things,” he says. Many of these interests come from the National Geographic magazine pages his parents gathered at the family home.

Rafael Jorda Quetglas and Bàrbara Siquier Vanrell

For a month the magazine contained pictures from the Mars PathfinderThe mission delivered a robotic rover to the surface of Mars that returned spectacular panoramic views. To do this justice, National Geographic magazine included 9.5 million free pairs of 3D glasses in the edition for readers to see the pictures as if they were on the planet itself.

The young Jordá Siquier was delighted. When his school asked children to wear something for the carnival, it came as the planet Mars. His mother’s costume even contained the two moons of the red planet, Phobos and Demios, which were represented by white, fluffy fabric balls.

But when it came to what to study at university, Jordá Siquier made his choices for other reasons.

“I loved philosophy and architecture, where I got good grades. But I thought ‘what am I going to fight the most?’ So I decided on aerospace engineering.”

University and after

During his studies, Jordá Siquier met Aleix Megías, Marc Dayas and Jordi Barrera – some of the students who had worked with him to produce this photograph.

After graduation, the group dispersed. Some worked for ESA, others for other space agencies, and others for aerospace companies. In fact, Jordá Siquier himself worked for a startup and then for Airbus.

By 2014, however, it was time for Jordá Siquier to turn his early vision into reality.

Working alone at the time, there wasn’t a lot of money other than what Jordá Siquier could generate himself. He decided to sell CanSats, simulated nanosatellites no bigger than a soda can that taught students about space missions. Jordá Siquier was able to sell 700 in the summer of 2015.

But just as he won a place at Entrepreneur First, the accelerator for start-ups in the early stages, Open Cosmos suddenly took a leap forward. He managed to sell his first end-to-end nanosatellite launch to the European Commission.

Funding followed the first deal from investors like Joe White and Wendy Tan-White, LocalGlobe, Entrepreneur First and Spanish Angels are putting together 0.5 million euros in the company.

Open the cosmos

The first start

Now Jordá Siquier was faced with the great challenge of delivering the first Open Cosmos nanosatellite in less than 6 months. He went back to his old college friends and asked, “Are you going to join me?”

Megías, Dayas and Barrera joined with Han Lai, an electronics engineer, and Mark Cowan, a software developer from Entrepreneur First. they bought A range of experiences in the aerospace industry realizing the end-to-end concept that Jordá Siquier was always looking for.

For the first time, Open Cosmos assembled the capsule the size of a shoebox or a small microwave.

In April 2017, the nanosatellite was successfully and punctually introduced.

“Space is slow and expensive, but we are fast and cheap,” says Jordá Siquier.

Further funding

Four more satellite launches have now been sold, and two are scheduled to start in 2019. One customer is ESA and another is the UK government.

Further financing followed a Series A of $ 7 million in 2017 Led by BGF Ventures with LocalGlobe, Entrepreneur First and Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of TransferWise.

Open Cosmos has grown from just Jordá Siquier to 37 employees in three years and moved to the Harwell campus in Oxford.

Open the cosmos

At last

Sixty years ago a mainframe took up an entire room.

But then came the PC, which was developed by entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and disrupted the entire market. The products were priced sufficiently low to be mass marketed that today we can enjoy a whole range of services on a wide variety of devices.

Can Open Cosmos do for the aerospace industry what Apple or Microsoft did for computers?

“Disruption is more than just another perspective. It’s just innovation, ”says Jordá Siquier.

“A new perspective must be adopted. This is a glitch. “

“Call to Orbit”: Open the space industry to a wider range of participants

Open Cosmos works with the European Space Agency (ESA), which is based on the 69th International Astronautical Congress in Bremen on Tuesday, October 2nd.

With the “Call to Orbit” competition, the winners can access a future launch to test an innovative payload or to collect data for their customers such as NGOs or universities.

“Until now, it has been difficult for many research institutions, companies and start-ups to develop their technology to meet the time-to-market requirements of their customers“Said ESA Director General Jan Wörner.

“Today Open Cosmos offers the opportunity to be ready to go within three months.”

Open the cosmos

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