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Ecliptic Enterprises Acquired by ARQUIMEA

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
August 29, 2023
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Ecliptic Enterprises Acquired by ARQUIMEA
Ecliptic and ARQUIMEA employees at the Small Satellite Conference in August 2023.
Image credit: AQUIMEA/Ecliptic Enterprises.

Ecliptic Enterprises, a small California company that pioneered the use of live video cameras on rocket launches, has been acquired by ARQUIMEA, a Spanish technology company active in space, defense, health care, and technology development.

In acquiring Ecliptic, ARQUIMEA obtained 25-30 employees and an established product line of optical payloads, sensors, and avionics developed since the space company was founded in 2001.

“Ecliptic is a company that has been the leader in space systems for over 20 years,” Jesus Delgado, CEO of ARQUIMEA USA, told Parabolic Arc. “They are a company well established in the United States, really well respected with the key main players in the industry in space. They were advancing their payload systems, moving from optical payloads and single cameras to more complex optical payloads, data management systems, and more complex avionics.

“They have been in many key programs in space, always working as a fixed-price, commercial product company since they were funded,” Delgado added. “All those were very attractive features for ARQUIMEA that was looking for a partner in the US.”

Ecliptic was founded in 2001 by a group of 11 employees who had been laid off from Blastoff! Corporation, company Founder and former CEO Rex Ridenoure told Parabolic Arc. Blastoff! had been planning to launch a private mission to the Moon, but funding dried up when the dot-com bubble burst before the company could build and launch the spacecraft. Ecliptic began by putting cameras on rockets and later branched off into avionics and sensors.

More than 500 of Ecliptic’s RocketCam onboard video systems have been launched on more than 150 successful missions, according to the company’s website. In addition to the video service, Ecliptic’s avionics and sensor systems have been used to control and manage data for experiments aboard the International Space Station and other spacecraft. Ecliptic has been involved in the space shuttle and Artemis lunar program.

“Ecliptic is a leading space camera and avionics company, with a heritage of hundreds of missions,” ARQUIMEA President Diego Fernández said in a press release. “It is a reference provider for all the primes and American government agencies. With this acquisition, ARQUIMEA opens the door to the United States, the largest market in the world.”

Ecliptic CEO Mike Álvarez said he is excited about the possibilities the acquisition brings.

“With the completion of this transaction, Ecliptic is excited to enhance the scope and geographical reach of its service and product offerings. We look forward to the continued development of innovative technological solutions for the space sector and further expansion into new markets,” Álvarez said.

Delgado explained that ARQUIMEA is a fast-growing company that has grown from 200 to 500 employees and from revenues of $20 million to more than $100 million. “We want to keep that growth, we want to grow healthy, and we want to grow in the US,” he said.

Delgado said ARQUIMEA is planning to commercialize Ecliptic’s products in Europe and work with its new acquisition to develop new products. ARQUIMEA’s research and development group is also developing AI and other technologies that improve Ecliptic’s products.

Ecliptic’s employees will be involved in developing satellites for BeetleSat, a constellation of 273 satellites that ARQUIMEA is developing in collaboration with NSLComm of Israel. The first two satellites will be developed and launched over the next two years, Delgado said.

“Our goal is to grow Ecliptic and ARQUIMEA in the US,” Delgado added. “We have our forecast for the next few years. We really need one to deliver the products we have right now. We think we can grow really fast from $10 million in revenue to $50 million in revenue. That is something we think we can achieve in a really realistic way with the support we are adding the market opportunity that Ecliptic has already.”

ARQUIMEA was a 20 percent shareholder in Ecliptic prior to the full acquisition. The partial ownership allowed the two companies to begin working together on developing new projects and marketing and manufacturing Ecliptic’s products in Europe, Ecliptic said in a press release.

“Even at the beginning, you plan and you have your key objectives of how this is going to grow together, you start seeing way more opportunities than what you planned,” Delgado told Parabolic Arc. “As soon as you start working and approaching from customers to engineering and all that, more opportunities are showing up.”

Earlier this month, ARQUIMEA invested $5 million in Ecliptic “to support growth and accelerate advancements in Ecliptic’s radiation-hardened cameras and space routers for lunar missions, multispectral high-resolution optical payloads for Earth observation and compact ‘smart’ cameras for surveillance,” according to a press release.

“The advancements in this product lines will be supported by Arquimea scientist and engineers developing state-of-the-art technologies in AI, robotics, quantum, and photonics,” the press release said. “Arquimea technology infusion into Ecliptic’s products has started with the integration of deep learning methods for active fire semantic segmentation and for objects detection, tracking and identification into Ecliptic’s high-resolution multi-spectral payloads for low-cost and small satellites.”

Álvarez praised the $5 million investment.

“Ecliptic is deeply involved in the Artemis program and the investment will allow us to accelerate the transition of the products supplied to Artemis to other lunar or cislunar missions and customers. We are also excited to incorporate ARQUIMEA R&D capabilities in our products and to enhance the scope and geographical reach of our service and product offerings,” he said in a press release.

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