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Jun 17 2015

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I’m channeling Steve Tyler and singing “Dream On”

BlackSky Global reveals plan to image Earth in near real-time.

BlackSky Global has 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 Interne

I have a lot of personal experience with imagery constellation architecture, and I’m here to tell you that, in general, you can either get high resolution imagery, or high revisit rates, but not both. Judging from the fact that it’ll serve “95% of the Earth’s population”, I would expect them to use relatively low inclined orbits (no more than, say, 40 degrees) — that’ll help them some with refresh rates (at the expense of Polar region coverage), but still…

The promise of near-real time imagery delivery implies constant contact with ground stations, which implies either a metric ton of ground stations (not likely) or crosslinks between the satellites. This is certainly doable, but 1 meter resolution likely implies orbits low enough that crosslinks become problematic.

But what do I know?

I do know that Aerosmith rocks.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/06/17/im-channeling-steve-tyler-and-singing-dream-on/

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