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BlackSky Global Reveals Plan to Image the Planet in Near Real-Time



BlackSky Global revealed its plan to provide high-resolution images of the globe at an unparalleled cost and frequency. The company plans to deploy six satellites in 2016 and have a full 60-satellite imaging constellation by 2019, bringing “satellite imaging as a service” to those businesses, organizations and governments that cannot or do not wish to capitalize their own constellations.

Traditionally it takes days or weeks to receive a commercial satellite image due to limited imaging opportunities and priority constraints. With 60 satellites in unique orbits, BlackSky’s constellation will shorten this time to a couple hours or less, enabling customers to observe and monitor basic infrastructure across multiple industry sectors. BlackSky is developing a Web-scale software platform that will allow customers to request, receive and interact with its satellite imagery via the Internet.

“The launch of BlackSky Global marks a major leap forward in opening up access to images from space and enabling constant global awareness,” said Peter Wegner, BlackSky Global’s chief technology officer and former director of the U.S. Air Force Operationally Responsive Space Office. “By operating the infrastructure to view our planet in near real-time, we envision an open future where enhanced Earth observation leads to positive change and a better understanding of our world.”

BlackSky Global’s competitive pricing, rapid revisit rate and user experience will enable a new suite of businesses while supporting the growth of existing ones. It will offer one-meter-resolution color imagery at a dramatically lower cost and also provide premium services for priority tasking and other capabilities. The company follows a “pay-per-picture” business model and can capture images of single sites or larger areas, as well as provide video at a speed of one frame per second. Existing customers include satellite imagery providers and data analytics companies looking for more “pixel capacity” to grow their revenues.

“Satellite-imaging constellations have historically been designed to provide very high-resolution, precise imagery, resulting in small numbers of relatively expensive satellites in orbits offering only one view per day of a given location,” Wegner said. “BlackSky Global will complement these existing service providers by placing its satellites in orbits capable of rapid revisit rates over 95 percent of the Earth’s populated area, providing persistent imaging capability.”