Satellite imaging startup Planet Labs just successfully launched two satellites into orbit, but its biggest milestone is yet to come. The company, which builds inexpensive, low-flying satellites called “doves,” is preparing to launch the largest constellation of Earth-imaging satellites ever.
Planet Labs produces satellites that are ultra-efficient to make and operate, lowering the cost of satellite imagery while getting better images more often. Its “doves” are much smaller and fly much lower than traditional satellites, at an orbit of around 400 to 500 kilometers compared to 800 to 1,200 kilometers above Earth. That said, Planet Labs doves don’t live as long, with a typical life-span of about one to three years.
One of the other nice things about making short-lived commercial satellites is that Planet Labs can frequently upgrade its equipment, with each new version of its doves having the most advanced technology available for use. Compare that to traditional…
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