BlackSky Blog

BlackSky’s Blog

by | Nov 14, 2016

Hello beautiful! Our first pictures from pathfinder-1 represent complete mission success

Why is it that “your first” seems more beautiful than you ever could’ve imagined? Your first car, your first apartment, your first child? It has to be the anticipation of the moment, the hard work you put in, and the big milestone you’ve achieved. It makes it that much better, that much more beautiful to behold.

That’s what we’re feeling here at Spaceflight Industries when we look at the first wave of pictures we’ve taken from BlackSky’s Pathfinder-1. We’re in awe of their beauty. They’ve been flowing in over the last few weeks, and we couldn’t be more excited to share them with you.

Here are a few of our early favorites:

Mountains, Kandahar, Afghanistan
Mountains, Kandahar, Afghanistan

Desert Mountain, Bayingolin, China
Desert Mountain, Bayingolin, China
Toyko Suburbs, Toyko, Japan
Tokyo Suburbs, Tokyo, Japan

These pictures are from our Pathfinder series of spacecraft.  This first satellite demonstrates our ability to perform change detection and monitoring at a relevant scale. Airplanes, boats, shipping containers, trucks and cars are all easily detected in the initial imagery. As we continue to calibrate the system our images will become even sharper.

Now for some details.

Pathfinder-1 is currently operating in a 690 km circular orbit because it was launched as a rideshare spacecraft. Our BlackSky constellation will operate at 450 km providing 1-meter resolution. This means our resolution will be nearly twice as good as what you are seeing in these pictures. To prove this point – pull out your phone and stand seven feet from an object and take a picture. Now move forward one giant step – 2.5 feet – and take another. Do things look closer?

Even at this altitude we are pleased with the detail and performance, which validates our ability to look at major drivers of our economy. Each image has millions of pixels in them and captures an area that is 10 km across. Exploring the planet this way is a powerful thing. 

Since we first launched Pathfinder-1 about a month ago, we’ve confirmed our entire space and ground architectures are operational. We are now in the process of transitioning to fully automated mission operations. As we move forward and refine our space and ground systems, we are executing demonstrations that highlight the ability of the constellation to deliver imagery to customers with unprecedented timeliness.


We are still very early in our spacecraft mission and there is a lot more to learn and improve on from a performance standpoint. But to be clear, these pictures represent mission success.

As a final reflection, often times we move too fast and don’t take the time to reflect on our accomplishments. With these pictures, we’re doing just that. Stepping back and enjoying “total mission success” – Hello beautiful!

PS: Stay tuned, we will release more images on our Twitter handle (@Blacksky_Inc) very soon – be sure to follow us.