Viewing cable 09BERLIN788
Title: GERMAN SATELLITE START-UP RAPIDEYE GATHERING

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09BERLIN7882009-07-01 07:25:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Berlin
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DE RUEHRL #0788/01 1820725
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P 010725Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4489
INFO RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1032
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0310
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0531
RUEHVL/AMEMBASSY VILNIUS 0238
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE USD FAS WASHINGTON DC 0127
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRL/USDAO BERLIN GE
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUCUSTR/USSTRATCOM OFFUTT AFB NE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BERLIN 000788 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
STATE FOR EUR/CE PETER SCHROEDER 
STATE FOR ISN/MDSP DICK BUENNEKE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: TSPA EINV ETRD PGOV PREL PINR CH BR FR LH GM
SUBJECT: GERMAN SATELLITE START-UP RAPIDEYE GATHERING 
CUSTOMERS; EMPHASIS ON CHINESE AND USG MARKETS 
 
REF: 08 BERLIN 1537 
 
¶1.  (SBU) SUMMARY:  German satellite imagery provider 
RapidEye AG, which began selling its imagery products in 
January of this year (see ref A), has established its first 
contracts with France and Lithuania.  In the next few years, 
RapidEye is confident that its customer base will expand by 
ten, with an eye toward markets in China, the US, and Brazil. 
 Although the firm originally sought to become a niche 
provider of value-added imagery products and analysis, it is 
finding that its customers are only interested in raw imagery 
data.  This has caused RapidEye to re-focus its business 
model to be a provider of data that offers direct satellite 
downlink services.  Please see ref A for previous reporting 
on RapidEye AG.  END SUMMARY 
 
 
FRANCE AND LITHUANIA ARE RAPIDEYE'S FIRST CUSTOMERS 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
¶2.  (SBU) On June 15, 2009, Econoff and NGAoff met with 
RapidEye CEO Wolfgang Biedermann and discussed RapidEye's 
current and future business developments.  Biedermann said 
that RapidEye had contracts with its first customers, France 
and Lithuania, totaling one million euros.  Biedermann 
boasted that RapidEye had beat the competing French 
commercial satellite imagery system, SPOT, on a crop 
monitoring project in France.  (COMMENT:  SPOT is a 
high-resolution, optical imaging satellite system run by Spot 
Image in Toulouse, France.  The SPOT system has been 
operational since 1986 with its most recent launch in 2002. 
END COMMENT)  Biedermann explained that the main reason why 
RapidEye won over SPOT was that RapidEye has a superior 
imagery revisit rate, a feature valued by the French customer. 
 
 
CUSTOMERS IN THE FOLD: CHINA, BRAZIL AND THE US LEAD THE PACK 
--------------------------------------------- ---------------- 
 
¶3.  (SBU) Biedermann said RapidEye has 10 more customers in 
its sights, led by China, Brazil, and the United States.  He 
estimated these would bring RapidEye's revenue up to around 
10 million euro.  He emphasized that the customers would be 
"operational" and not simply "pilot users."  RapidEye views 
the sale of land cover data (including purchases by NGA) to 
US defense and intelligence agencies to be a key component of 
business success in the US market.  To support this goal, 
RapidEye plans to set up a small office in Northern Virginia 
to serve as a liaison to USG customers.  RapidEye views 
Brazil as a large scale potential customer due to its size, 
rapid development, and well-organized national use of remote 
sensing data. 
 
 
CHINA MAY HAVE THE MOST POTENTIAL FOR RAPIDEYE 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
¶4.  (SBU) China appears to be the focal point of RapidEye's 
current marketing strategy, with principal target areas 
identified as the Chinese Ministry of Land Management (MLM) 
and the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA).  Biedermann said 
"other" Chinese ministries might require similar coverage, 
but that RapidEye will approach each sale independently. 
Noting that some Chinese ministries do not coordinate well 
with each other, RapidEye envisions selling change-detection 
data products to MLM on a nation-wide basis.  Biedermann said 
China has three tiered priority areas related to acquiring 
remote sensing data for land management: 1) China's rapidly 
developing coastal region, 2) Central China, and 3) the 
desert and semi-desert terrain of Western China.  For these 
areas, Biedermann estimated the average cost per square 
kilometer would be between 0.70 and 0.90 euro. 
 
¶5.  (SBU) RapidEye's primary competition in the Chinese 
market is the French SPOT satellite system. Biedermann is 
eager to demonstrate the superiority of RapidEye's products 
and services to the Chinese customer.  Simply put, RapidEye's 
 
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goal is to supplant SPOT as the vendor of choice in the 
Chinese market. 
 
 
RAPID EYE PLUGGED INTO WORLD MARKETS; WAITING FOR CUSTOMERS 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
 
¶6.  (SBU) As RapidEye strives to expand its worldwide 
customer base, it has already established distribution 
contracts covering the US, China, Russia/Eastern Europe, and 
Mexico/Central America.  In January 2009, RapidEye announced 
an agreement with China's Beijing Earth Observation, Inc. 
(BEO) (a subsidiary of Eastdawn Group Inc.) as its Chinese 
distributor.  Eastdawn Group CEO, Mr. Bing Sun said RapidEye 
has great potential in the Chinese market, especially in the 
agricultural, environmental, insurance, and government 
sectors.  In February 2009, RapidEye announced an agreement 
with the Mexican company Bufete de Ingenieria en 
Telecomunicaciones y Sistemas (B.I.T.S.) to be RapidEye's 
sole distributor in Mexico and Central America.  In April 
2009, RapidEye announced an agreement with the Moscow-based 
company Sovzond as its sole distributor for markets in 
Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Republic 
of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Krygystan, and 
Turkmenistan. 
 
¶7.  (SBU) Also in April, RapidEye announced an agreement with 
the US company MakaLani LLC of Honolulu, Hawaii as its sole 
distributor to the US market.  MakaLani LLC, a Native 
Hawaiian Organization (NHO), will focus on distribution to 
the US Government market, particularly defense, the 
intelligence community, and homeland security.  (COMMENT: 
RapidEye may have chosen MakaLani LLC based on an earlier USG 
recommendation to establish US distribution ties with a 
minority-owned or disadvantaged US company in order to be 
better positioned to compete for US Government contracts. 
END COMMENT) 
 
 
RAPID EYE TO OFFER DIRECT DOWNLINK SERVICES 
------------------------------------------- 
 
¶8.  (SBU) RapidEye signed a contract with the Canadian firm, 
MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA), in April 
2009, designating MDA as the sole supplier of direct downlink 
solutions for RapidEye's international customers seeking 
ground segments.  The contract allows international ground 
station customers the ability to task, acquire, and process 
RapidEye imagery in near real-time. 
Koenig