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BlackSky Announces Next Generation Dual Payload Satellite Architecture to Deliver High Resolution and Nighttime Imaging Capabilities

by | Sep 24, 2020

U.S. Army and Defense Innovation Unit to leverage new satellite design for Tactical GEOINT program

HERNDON, Va. – September 24, 2020 – BlackSky, a leading provider of global monitoring services, geospatial intelligence and satellite imagery, announced today the next phase of expansion of its high-revisit commercial satellite constellation with the unveiling of its next generation, Gen-3, satellite architecture. In addition, the company also announced it has conducted the preliminary design review of its Gen-3 satellite design for the U.S. Army Tactical GEOINT (TACGEO) prototype program as part of a multi-year contract with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).

The commercial constellation expansion features Gen-3 satellites capable of producing images with 50-centimeter resolution and of hosting multiple sensors including short-wave infrared (SWIR). The improved resolution and enhanced spectral diversity of the Gen-3 satellites will extend BlackSky’s ability to provide real-time insights to its customers in a broad set of conditions, including nighttime, low light, and challenging weather.

The TACGEO program is designed to support the Department of Defense’s needs for responsive, space-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) for tactical applications. The TACGEO program is a science and technology program to demonstrate the tactical utility of a single satellite of Gen-3’s capabilities. BlackSky’s Gen-3 satellites will enable rapid distribution of highly responsive insights to warfighters to support concurrent war games, exercises, and combat training center events and help measure technology readiness.

The TACGEO project leverages BlackSky’s high-revisit, low-latency constellation architecture to address a growing need for responsive intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for the tactical ISR missions. BlackSky accelerates the Department of Defense’s ability to leverage low-cost, high-performance, small imaging satellites to develop critical concept of operations (CONOPS) including tactics, techniques and procedures, and to inform future operational systems.

The contract was awarded to BlackSky in January 2020 after a competitive bid process. The TACGEO satellite program is now well into the design and development phase and is on track to launch and demonstrate operational capabilities in 2022.

“BlackSky is committed to ensuring the success of our customers’ missions. Our strategy of combining rapid evolution and deployment of space-based remote sensing capabilities with an industry leading AI-driven analytics and delivery platform will ensure that our customers are always the first to know,” said Brian O’Toole, CEO of BlackSky. “We are very proud to have reached this performance milestone. It demonstrates our ability to leverage a next generation space and analytics architecture to deliver new insights at a pace and economics unprecedented in the industry.”

The Gen-3 design is an evolution of the Gen-2 system that is currently in production with BlackSky’s satellite partner, LeoStella. BlackSky’s rapid innovation approach and vertically integrated architecture enables it to produce new generations of satellites, while continuing full-scale production and operations of its current satellites. This agile development and production strategy will enable BlackSky to complete design and manufacturing of its Gen-3 satellites in less than 24 months.

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About BlackSky LLC

BlackSky is a global monitoring company. We monitor activities and facilities worldwide by harnessing the world’s emerging sensor networks and leveraging our own satellite constellation. We process millions of observations daily from space, air, environmental sensors, asset tracking sensors, Industrial IoT, and Internet-enabled narrative sources. BlackSky’s on-demand swarm of satellites can image a location multiple times throughout the day. We monitor for pattern-of-life anomalies to produce alerts that enhance situational awareness. Our monitoring service is powered by cutting-edge compute techniques including machine learning, artificial intelligence, computer vision, and natural language processing. BlackSky’s global monitoring is available via a simple subscription and requires no IT infrastructure or setup. For more information visit www.blacksky.com.

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Colleen Moffitt
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