In their own words, Satellogic is building ‘the first scalable earth observation platform with the ability to remap the entire planet at both high-frequency and high-resolution’. With this week’s launch, they have successfully delivered two new spacecraft satellites into low earth orbit.
China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) successfully delivered two NewSat Mark IV spacecraft. Both satellites are equipped with two payloads: a multispectral camera with 1 meter resolution and a hyperspectral camera with 30 meter resolution. A Long March 2D rocket launched the satellites from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, joining their eight other satellites already in orbit.
Satellogic’s launch on 15 January is the first of many planned for 2020. Emiliano Kargieman, founder and CEO of Satellogic: “We are launching sixteen satellites in the next eight months. After that, we will go on to launch a constellation of ninety satellites in the next twenty-four months.”
Who are Sophie and Marie?
Looking back at 2018, when Satellogic launched two other earth observation satellites. They baptized them with girls’ names: ‘Ada’ and ‘Maryam’. They were named after Ada Lovelace, the English mathematician who wrote about computer programming a century before the actual machines appeared, and Maryam Mirzakhani, the only woman ever to win the Fields Medal. The satellites Satellogic just launched, continue in this tradition of paying tribute to outstanding women in science. Sophie and Marie are named in honor of Sophie Germain, the mathematician and physicist, and Marie Curie, the physicist and chemist.
Satellogic’s team has been designing, manufacturing, assembling, integrating, testing, and launching the recently launched two NewSat Mark IV satellites using the latest generation of their own proprietary spacecraft design. Next steps are to fully commission and begin capturing high-resolution data. This is why Satellogic likes to call itself ‘the first vertically integrated geospatial analytics company’. Kargieman explains: “We design satellites from the ground up. Moving on, we operate them once they are in orbit, we download and collect the data. Lastly, we process the data and we run an analytics pipeline to provide our customers with insights.”
There are a lot of advantages in vertical integration on the cost side, Emiliano Kargieman feels. “There’s a lot of overhead to fragmented value chains”. Also, it creates flexibility one needs to solve problems at the right stage at the right layer. “We build our own sensors which are going into our satellites. The same goes for our propulsion instruments; we build our own power sub-system. And because we build our own cameras, we can choose the right technology. In short: we can evolve the technology according to our customer’s needs. We do not depend on any external supplier.”
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Single largest barrier
Emiliano Kargieman sees value in developing in-house, proprietary solutions. “Being able to choose where you solve the problem, it gives you flexibility. You either solve it in software, or in hardware. All these things that come with integration of the value chain allow you to maximise the value that you deliver to the customers and reduce the cost. And because we believe that the cost of data is the single largest barrier for massive adoption of earth observation, we think it is worth it to go it this way. As we add more satellites to the constellations, we will be able to hit the sweet spot of a weekly remap of the planet. We are going to offer it as a solution. This will allow us to get into the mainstream.”