Loft Orbital offers space services on demand, just like on Earth, when a company uses the services of a cloud provider. In space, these are image detection or radio listening devices, making it possible to identify the start of a forest fire in the Amazon for a Brazilian client, the state of the vines in Bordeaux, where the degradation of the Great Barrier Reef on behalf of the Australian government, or even certain suspicious movements on land and at sea. Flying at an altitude of 500 km, Loft’s satellites tirelessly observe, measure and listen, passing from one client to another during the same 90-minute orbit, depending on the areas flown over.
Created in 2017, the company is based in San Francisco and Toulouse and managed by a Frenchman, Pierre-Damien Vaujour. In principle, the company’s French DNA prohibits it from having any access to sovereign contracts such as those of the American Department of Defense. However, Loft Orbital has managed to get around this obstacle and today a third of its revenues come from the Pentagon, for applications so sensitive that the boss of Loft is unaware of their nature.
In this episode of Control-F, Pierre-Damien Vaujour tells how he and his associates built this nugget of Franco-American New Space despite fierce competition, a sometimes difficult economy and geopolitical constraints.
The team: Frédéric Filloux (presentation) and Jules Krot (editing and production)
Music and design: Léonard Filloux
Logo: Jérémy Cambour/L’Express
Image credit: IRAS (Infrared Astronomical Satellite)
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