OHB Venture Capital invests in astrofactum
Bremen, 16th March 2017. OHB Venture Capital GmbH has announced its participation as investor and as strategic partner to astrofactum GmbH. OHB Venture Capital GmbH is a fully owned subsidiary of the listed space technology group OHB SE (Prime Standard, ISIN DE0005936124). The OHB participation will enable astrofactum to benefit, above all, from the OHB group’s 35 years of experience specialised in developing high-tech solutions for the space sector. A complementary benefit of this partnership is the access to an extensive network within the scientific research landscape.
astrofactum was founded in 2014 with the long-term objective of enabling a broad spectrum of users to access astronomical applications form space. The activities include both the design and realisation of astronomy related projects, and also the commercialisation of the associated observation capabilities.
Jochen Harms, CEO of OHB Venture Capital says, “astrofactum is right at the centre of our investment portfolio – a European company with business in the field of aerospace technology with a strong focus on service.”
“astrofactum democratizes access to outer space. Our successor to the Hubble Space Telescope will enable not only scientists, but also persons from the general public interested in astronomy to explore the universe. Our collaboration with OHB is an important milestone,” explains Heiko Wilkens, CEO of astrofactum.
Dr Fritz Merkle, Board Member of OHB SE, adds, “astrofactum’s business ideas enrich OHB SE’s portfolio, opening an entirely new route in terms of applications and services in the field of astronomical research, with a customer base from the domains science, education and amateur astronomy.”
The company’s first step will be to amalgamate free, terrestrial and satellite-based modes of observation and supply users from private and institutional sectors. This establishes an astronomy offer for a user community that spans the globe, thus kick starting step number two: the space telescope project entitled “Public Telescope”. This telescope has a primary mirror with a diameter of 80 cm, enabling people to observe space in several different spectrums: ultraviolet (UV), visual (VIS) and near-infrared (NIR). The newest part of the business model is the idea to give unrestricted access to private astronomers and individuals working in education. In terms of observations in the ultraviolet spectrum, the space telescope will close the gap arising in the scientific field as a result of the Hubble Space Telescope going out of operation in 2020. Access to the UV spectrum is of fundamental importance to virtually all subdomains under the umbrella of astrophysical research.
In comparison to terrestrial telescopes, a space telescope offers all kinds of advantages: using a telescope in space, that is to say using it outside the Earth’s atmosphere, means astronomic objects can be observed without any interference. Meteorological influences, air turbulence and air pollution are all factors occurring inside the Earth’s atmosphere which reduce the quality of the images produced by terrestrial telescopes. The ultraviolet spectrum can only be observed from space due to the screening properties of the Earth’s atmosphere. Observation possibilities extend to include objects in our solar system, exoplanets, galaxies, transient space objects, star formations and stellar populations. Observations made within the UV spectrum enable conclusions to be drawn regarding the chemical composition and physical features of celestial bodies in the upper layers of the atmosphere.
As a subsidiary of OHB SE, OHB Venture Capital GmbH invests in start-up businesses across Europe whose strategy is in line with that of the OHB group, and who work towards innovating OHB group’s current lines of business. Companies with positive market prospects working in the fields of space systems, technology, applications and services all count as promising businesses and start-ups. OHB Venture Capital not only assists their portfolio companies in terms of actual venture capital, but mostly in terms of providing access to the OHB group’s expertise, as well as to an extensive network within the research and promotion scenes. What is more, start-up businesses can receive active support in the areas of management and finance. OHB Venture Capital prefers to get involved in financing during a business’ very early stages of company development.
Based in Munich, astrofactum GmbH focuses on commercialising satellite-based services on a long-term basis, aiming to provide as many target groups as possible with access to astronomical applications. Their target audience includes private users, education, commercial businesses and scientific organisations. The company was founded by Heiko Wilkens (52), initiator of the space telescope project, and Christian Alexander Wiederer (45) in March 2014. The team’s space telescope project has received support from renowned scientific organisations and aerospace companies, as well as teams of experienced specialists who have already been heavily involved in space telescope missions such as Hubble, EXOSAT or ROSAT.
OHB SE is the first listed technology and space group in Germany with a history spanning 35 years. Two business units offer international customers sophisticated solutions and systems:
Within the „Space Systems" corporate division the focus is on the development and implementation of space projects. In particular, this refers to the development and manufacturing of low earth orbit and geostationary satellites for navigation, scientific, communication and Earth observation purposes, including scientific payloads. In terms of human space flight, the focus is on projects aimed at equipping and operating the International Space Station (ISS), Columbus and ATVs. Within the context of exploration, amongst others, our experts contribute to the exploration of our solar system with an emphasis on the Moon and Mars. Beyond this, high-performance reconnaissance satellites, as well as broadband wireless transmissions of image reconnaissance data make up our core technologies for security and reconnaissance purposes.
The „Aerospace + Industrial Products" corporate division places emphasis on the manufacturing of products for aviation and space travel, as well as telematics. In this regard, OHB has positioned itself as a significant equipment provider for aerospace structures for aviation and space travel and, amongst others, is Germany's largest supplier to the ARIANE programme.
Images for publications visit: www.publictelescope.org/mediathek/
Further information on the Public Telescope Project: www.publictelescope.org
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