HyspecIQ is starting to assemble its advisory board, which could hint at hyperspectral imagery applications the company hopes to pursue. Ray Palumbo, a retired United States Army general who served as the Pentagon’s director of defense intelligence as well as the head of Defense Department Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Task Force, is going to join the board together with Shanti Rao, who is a Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer as well as the architect for Carbon Mapper greenhouse gas tracking constellation.
HyspecIQ Chief Executive Officer John DeBlasio informed SpaceNews that other advisory board members for Herndon, Virginia-based business will be announced soon. Since receiving a $20 million investment from renowned venture capitalist Peter Thiel in September, HyspecIQ has been rapidly growing. York Space Systems was chosen to build buses and integrate satellites, as well as the BridgeComm company was chosen to offer optical communications capabilities, which will be a backup for satellites that will also employ radio frequency connectivity. HyspecIQ intends to deploy its very first satellite in 2023, followed by a second satellite shortly after.
HyspecIQ will first focus on government hyperspectral data applications. In 2019, the company was awarded a study contract by the National Reconnaissance Office. By email, an NRO representative said, “Based on our continued work with HySpecIQ, NRO has extended the duration of performance for the commercial imagery study deal with HySpecIQ until September 30, 2022.” “HSI capabilities possess the ability to contribute to NRO’s present and future overhead design, and this study contract gives valuable insight into our capacity to properly use and integrate HSI into our architecture.”
Airborne hyperspectral sensors currently provide data to US national security agencies. “What excites me here is the airborne-quality hyperspectral from the space,” said Keith Masback, who works as a HyspecIQ consultant as well as former CEO and president of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. “You can view over regions where you can’t fly from the national security standpoint.”
Masback noted in any future conflict that the US does not dominate the airspace as it did in Iraq and Afghanistan, this capability will become increasingly vital. While HyspecIQ is focused on servicing defense customers, DeBlasio said the company has developed a list of “30-some use cases” that have resulted in the “104 [spectral] bands that we’re gathering.”
The company wants to provide information on the greenhouse gas sources as well as emissions to government agencies and oil and gas firms, for example. According to “Mapping methane plumes at really high spatial resolution with WorldView-3 satellite,” a report by scientists from Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering at the Spain’s Polytechnic University of Valence as well as Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, researchers discovered 26 methane sources in Algeria, Turkmenistan, and China using shortwave infrared data from Maxar Technologies’ WorldView-3 satellite.
Rao stated, “This is a really promising application of the HyspecIQ data.” “This is among the most interesting prospects I’ve seen in a long time.” When it comes to the fugitive methane problem, we need a wide range of sensors at all scales.”