What is BlackSky?
BlackSky offers “satellite imaging as a service,” allowing our customers, including existing and emerging users of satellite imagery, to enable or expand their businesses.
Why was BlackSky created? What is BlackSky’s business model?
BlackSky was created to provide “satellite imaging as a service” to those companies, organizations and governments who cannot or do not wish to capitalize an imaging constellation of their own. Using a “pay-per-picture” business model, BlackSky can capture images of single sites or cover larger areas, as well as provide video at one frame per second. BlackSky was founded in 2013 by Jason Andrews with the goal of providing an evolving infrastructure to understand our planet in near real-time, and make geospatial data open and available to more people and organizations. This includes the ability to monitor the global economy, which totals around $78 trillion annually. High market demand exists for this information across many industries, but access to high-resolution satellite imagery has traditionally been incredibly expensive and inflexible with slow delivery rates.
What is BlackSky’s mission/vision?
BlackSky’s mission is to deploy and operate the infrastructure to enable constant global awareness while democratizing access to satellite imaging data. The company envisions an open, intelligent future where enhanced global observation leads to positive change and decision-making and a better understanding of the world in which we live.
What services does BlackSky offer?
BlackSky provides color imagery at a resolution of one-meter ground sample distance (GSD) at nadir. The company follows a “pay-per-picture” business model and can capture images of single sites or cover larger areas, as well as provide video at one frame per second. BlackSky’s pricing, revisit rate and user experience are designed to enable a whole new suite of businesses while supporting the needs of existing ones.
Is BlackSky operational?
BlackSky is scheduled to deploy its first six spacecraft by the end of 2017 (with two scheduled launches in 2016). By the end of 2020, BlackSky plans to have 60 satellites in orbit, which, once completed, will be the largest fleet of high-resolution imaging satellites ever deployed.
How does BlackSky and its services compare to other satellite imaging services?
Several commercial companies provide high-resolution, one-meter satellite imaging. However, the satellite constellations of these companies currently measure five spacecraft or fewer and are located in very specific, sun-synchronous orbits that are ideal for mapping. BlackSky is currently deploying a constellation of 60 high-resolution microsats, predominantly located in mid-latitudes, to provide frequent revisit rates over 95 percent of the Earth’s population. BlackSky’s constellation will complement these existing service providers, enabling a new level of global awareness by providing dynamic detection of changes across multiple industry sectors.
How will BlackSky operate? How does it work?
As part of its goal to democratize access to satellite imagery, BlackSky is developing a Web-scale software platform that will allow its customers to rapidly request, receive and interact with satellite imagery via the Internet.
Who uses BlackSky?
BlackSky customers include companies, governments, institutions and individuals seeking access to low-cost, rapid-revisit, high-resolution satellite imagery. BlackSky’s customers use its data services to enable or grow their businesses because they eliminate the need to capitalize a large constellation of high-resolution spacecraft.
Does BlackSky compete with Digital Globe, Planet Labs, SkyBox and other imagery providers?
BlackSky’s business model is to provide imagery capacity to individuals and organizations who can monetize it. The company views Digital Globe, Planet Labs, SkyBox and other imagery providers as customers – not competitors – by providing them with additional, complementary imaging capacity that they can sell using their existing distribution channels.
What is the price of BlackSky’s imagery?
Consistent with its goal of democratizing access to satellite imagery, BlackSky will offer its imaging services for approximately one-tenth the cost of the current industry average. In addition, BlackSky will provide premium service offerings for priority tasking and other capabilities.
What are some of the uses or applications of BlackSky’s services?
BlackSky’s satellite imaging data leads to a variety of uses in areas such as geography, research, resource management, intelligence, geospatial technology, weather, disaster response, human rights, construction and development, media and entertainment and more. Governments and organizations can leverage the data to monitor the economy and environment, track and prevent issues such as illegal fishing and logging, and aid in humanitarian crises and natural disasters, for example. In addition, BlackSky’s satellite-imaging constellation will provide time-critical imagery for high-priority national security, defense and law enforcement actions, customs and border protection and critical infrastructure protection. By offering more flexibility in buying commercial space imagery, its services have implications for protecting U.S. national security and competitiveness, enabling the U.S. government to stay ahead in the next stage of the commercialization of space and assist in times of need.
What about privacy? How does BlackSky address security and privacy concerns?
BlackSky is dedicated to the privacy of its customers and the broader global community. In line with this commitment, the company’s one-meter resolution imagery is not capable of capturing individual people or determining details such as the make or model of cars. At one-meter resolution, BlackSky’s imagery can determine the existence of a car, truck or train, but little else.
How does BlackSky ensure it does not contribute to the generation of space debris?
BlackSky is committed to complying with national and international guidelines for orbital debris mitigation. The company’s spacecraft operate at orbital altitudes of 450 to 550 km and have an orbit life of one to five years. This approach adheres to the U.N. guideline dictating that deployed satellites re-enter the atmosphere within 25 years, as well as to the NASA standard that spacecraft pose a less than one in 10,000 chance of casualty on Earth. By committing itself to what it believes are industry best practices, BlackSky supports the global space community and ensures its satellites pose little threat to orbital debris production.
How does BlackSky relate to Spaceflight Industries, Spaceflight Systems and/or Spaceflight Services?
BlackSky is a service offering by Spaceflight Industries, which also includes integrated launch services provider, Spaceflight.
How is BlackSky financed?
Spaceflight Industries has raised a total of $53.5 million over the past two years, a portion of which has gone toward funding BlackSky. BlackSky is fully funded to deploy six spacecraft by the end of 2017.
How many people work for BlackSky?
BlackSky currently has 40 employees and is growing quickly. The company is hiring exceptional individuals who want to be a part of changing how we observe our planet.
What is the name of your spacecraft?
BlackSky’s first two demonstration spacecraft are named Pathfinder. The spacecraft in the operational constellation have been named Global. By the end of 2016, the company plans to have Pathfinder-1 and Pathfinder-2 on orbit, followed by Global-1 through Global-4 in 2017.