In a first for the industry, six satellites, built in California, to be launched in California, for a California company have arrived at the Vandenberg Air Force Base, where they are scheduled to be launched on a Minotaur rocket in October. Space Systems Loral (SSL), a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, built the six high-resolution small satellites for Planet for its SkySat Earth observation constellation – a fleet Planet gained through the acquisition of the Terra Bella business from Google, Inc. in April 2017. The satellites will double Planet’s high resolution imaging capabilities and help deliver information to users about our physical world that impacts decision making.
“Small satellites and Earth observation satellites are a growing focus for SSL,” said Dario Zamarian, group president of SSL. “SSL is known for working very collaboratively with our customers and it has been a great pleasure for our team to work together with Planet. For these satellites we have taken a fresh approach to manufacturing, learning from our GEO experience but also looking for new and more efficient processes that in turn also inform our large satellite manufacturing.”
The satellites, called SkySat 8 through 13, are each about 60 x 60 x 95 centimeters, weigh about 100 kilograms, and capture sub-meter color imagery and up to 90-second clips of HD video with 30 frames per second. Working together with the seven SkySats already on orbit, the satellites will dramatically increase Planet’s high resolution imaging capabilities, enabling multiple imaging passes in a single day. These capabilities, combined with Planet’s over 170 Dove satellites and their advanced software analytics platform, make it possible to derive timely insights from any location in the world. The Planet constellation provides a broad range of data, tools, and analytical services that help leaders in business and humanitarian sectors solve complex problems.
“These SkySats double the amount of high resolution data that we can capture and serve to users, and will power insights, inform smart decisions, and most importantly, help make the world a better and safer place,” said Will Marshall, co-founder and chief executive officer of Planet. “The highly experienced team at SSL has been helpful and responsive as we work together to get the satellites prepared for launch.”
SSL has deep experience in building and integrating some of the world’s most powerful and comprehensive solutions for services such as communications, Earth observation, in-orbit servicing, space robotics, and exploration. Four SkySats built by SSL were launched in September 2016, and SSL is currently building an additional eight LEOs for Planet in its SmallSat manufacturing facility in Palo Alto, Calif., where the company takes an innovative approach to satellite design, assembly, and test.