BlackSky has announced partnerships with Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio to build 60 high-resolution Earth-observation satellites. The constellation of satellites will form the backbone of the Seattle-based company’s AI-powered global monitoring system.
During the official announcement on September 15, Blacksky CEO and founder, Jason Andrews revealed the importance of the partnerships to the success of the company. “We started this vision in 2013 and today we are announcing a strategic partnership with Thales Alenia Space and some financing that will get the critical mass going,” he said. “There is also a partnership with Telespazio to help distribute our analytics products and services internationally but with a focus on Europe.”
A subsidiary of Spaceflight Industries, BlackSky has its sights set on creating an Earth-monitoring system that will enable revisits every 60 minutes. The jewel in the BlackSky crown, however, will be an AI-powered platform that will aggregate information from social media and global news feeds to determine key observation areas. Access to the company’s feeds will then be packaged in a neat browser interface that will essentially democratise access to high-resolution global monitoring.
In addition to their constellation of 60 smaller satellites, BlackSky plans to tap into feeds from other operators to allow additional data points for its system. “Our business model is slightly different than everybody up here,” explained Andrews. “We see them all as data suppliers to our platform. It’s really about integrating all those data sources to create a holistic picture of what’s going on and provide that service to our customers.”
The company’s first orbiting asset, Pathfinder 1 was launched in September of last year. The spacecraft is equipped with a prototype of the company’s imaging hardware and can image an area of approximately 4.4 by 6.6 kilometers at an impressive one-meter resolution.
BlackSky’s next launch is planned for next year and will place its four “Globals” into orbit. The Globals will form the backbone of the upcoming constellation.