In the vast expanse of the cosmos, a new frontier is emerging, and it’s not just for astronomers or scientists—it’s for developers. Meet OurSky, a new and innovative tech startup that envisions a developer platform for space data, making the observation of celestial phenomena accessible to programmers worldwide through a combination of cutting-edge software and a global telescope network.
With a recent infusion of $9.5 million in seed funding led by Upfront Ventures, along with support from Oceans Ventures, Venrex Investment Management, Marlinspike Partners, and Embedded Ventures, OurSky is set to propel its mission forward, accelerating the deployment of telescopes and enhancing the capabilities of its developer platform.
CEO and co-founder Dan Roelker draws parallels between OurSky and tech giants like AWS or the web3 development platform Alchemy. In essence, the startup aims to abstract the complexity of telescope networks, providing developers with a seamless platform to access and process space observational data without the need for establishing their telescope infrastructure.
OurSky presents itself as a modern and cost-effective alternative to the existing space data status quo. The platform offers development tools and open APIs designed for a range of users, from space situational awareness startups to satellite operators.
Founded in October 2022 by Roelker and serial technology entrepreneur Alex Hawkinson, the stars seemed to align for the duo. Roelker’s background includes founding reverse-engineering hacker groups, serving as SpaceX’s VP of software engineering, and contributing to the growth of NFT marketplace OpenSea. Meanwhile, Hawkinson, an avid amateur astronomer, brought a unique perspective and a critical understanding of the need for a developer platform accessing real-time space object data.
OurSky is not merely acquiring telescopes; it’s building the world’s largest telescope network. The network comprises scopes owned and deployed by OurSky, professional amateur community-sourced scopes, and contributions from the larger amateur community. The startup has already deployed 30 scopes in nine global locations and onboarded 35 amateur astronomers. To attract amateurs, OurSky offers incentives such as free access to advanced capabilities like image stacking for astrophotographers.
Roelker has emphasized in recent interviews that their goal is not to “monetize” the amateur community but to collaboratively build a collective network. The startup plans to carefully allocate capital, focusing on software platform development to support various needs—from research to commercial, defense, and consumer applications for space observation.
Their management team is focused on making sure that they’re using this new investment wisely with a much further time frame. As OurSky aims to expand its team from 15 to 20 people in the next six months, the company’s strategic approach is to remain capital-efficient, adapting to the evolving market dynamics over the next year or two.
In the unfolding saga of space exploration, OurSky stands as a beacon of light, inviting developers and amateur space engineers to explore the cosmos and unlock the secrets of the universe through a platform that bridges the gap between the wonders of the sky and the ingenuity of coding.