Space travel: people from Munich launch fire alarms into space – economy

For a good three years now, the founders of the start-up Orbital Oracle Technologies (Ororatech) have been working on a satellite system with which they can discover forest fires and bushfires around the world in real time. In this way, authorities and private forest owners can start fighting fires faster than is often the case if they are dependent on observation towers or surveillance flights, for example. On Thursday, the founders headed by Thomas Grübler had their first demo satellite put into orbit: the size of a shoebox and equipped with a self-developed infrared thermal imaging camera. In cooperation with the small satellite company Spire, the Munich-based company has a joint flight between the rocket manufacturer Space-X and the Falcon 9 booked, which has around 100 small satellites on board. Ororatech later plans to launch Isar Aerospace’s small rockets.

The Ororatech satellite will orbit the earth at an altitude of around 525 kilometers and record high-resolution thermal images of the surface. These are then analyzed in the satellite and sent to earth. “This significantly reduces the time between fire detection and fire alarm from two hours to a few minutes,” says founder Grübler. So far the problem has been that the data from the Earth observation network Copernicus of the European space agency Esa and those of other research satellites do not cover the main fire time between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. due to the light conditions.

Ororatech set out to change that. To this end, the company plans to launch additional satellites into space this year. Eight units are expected to orbit the earth by the end of 2023. Ororatech wants to place a swarm of 100 small satellites in low Earth orbit by 2026. The start-up can then report forest fires and bushfires over 100 square meters worldwide within half an hour.

Ororatech has just raised 5.8 million euros

Grübler sees the urgency of the mission as a result of fires, as recently confirmed in Colorado. In two days at the end of December, the flames destroyed nearly 1,000 homes and caused $ 1 billion in damage. “Such natural disasters also exacerbate climate change,” he says. Forest fires would release several gigatons of CO₂ every year. Even remote areas could be observed in real time with satellites. This would enable more precise risk analyzes to be carried out and fires to be prevented.

“The first data obtained will already show what will be possible in the future and pave the way for improved coverage with more precise predictions,” says Wolfgang Neubert, partner at Apex Ventures. In addition to the investors Findus and Ananda Impact, as well as the Bayern growth fund and other donors, the venture capital company participated in a financing round in 2021 that raised 5.8 million euros.

On board the Falcon 9 are also components of the Germeringen start-up Dcubed – including a selfie stick that customers can use to take advertising images and other photos in space from the ground.

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