Planet Labs begins launching second set of satellites

The satellites will compete with Google's Skybox Imaging

Two of Planet Labs imaging satellites are seen shortly after they were released from the International Space Station

Two of Planet Labs imaging satellites are seen shortly after they were released from the International Space Station

A San Francisco startup that wants to provide daily updated satellite views of the entire planet has begun launching its second batch of satellites.

The first pair of Planet Labs' "Flock 1b" constellation of imaging satellites was released from the International Space Station on Aug. 19 and eight more have followed in the past few days, according to orbital tracking data published by the U.S. Strategic Command.

The company did not respond to several requests for comment, although one of the company's engineers confirmed the releases on Twitter.

Planet Labs launched its first batch of 28 satellites earlier this year and Flock 1b will consist of 28 more, according to data submitted to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. A third batch of 11 satellites called "Flock 1c" is also planned.

The company's satellites have a resolution of around 4 meters, which means they can see objects about the size of a car but not smaller. The images will likely be useful for monitoring deforestation, tracking the aftermath of natural disasters and other agricultural applications.

Skybox Imaging, a Silicon Valley startup acquired earlier this year by Google, is launching a fleet of satellites that have a resolution of about 80 centimeters -- making them five times sharper than the Planet Labs pictures.

Both those are nowhere near the 30-centimeter resolution that will be offered by WorldView-3, a recently launched satellite put into space by DigitalGlobe. The satellite is due to enter service later this year, and relaxed laws will allow DigitalGlobe to sell the 30-centimeter-resolution imagery to commercial customers like Google, Bing and Nokia from early next year. Previously, U.S. regulations had restricted imagery below 50 centimeters to U.S. government customers.

Planet Labs was formed by several former NASA engineers. It eventually hopes to have more than 100 satellites in space capturing imaging of every spot on Earth at least once every 24 hours. It's announced US$65.1 million in venture financing.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags popular scienceInternet-based applications and servicesMapsPlanet Labs

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?