USA: BlackSky, a leading provider of geospatial intelligence, satellite imaging, and global monitoring services, has announced that it has successfully achieved several significant on-orbit milestones of its first two Earth-imaging spacecraft, Global-1 and -2. Demonstrating the full operational performance of the spacecraft, the company showcased several images of economic points of interest taken by the first two smallsats in its high-revisit, Earth-imaging constellation.
The first time-series stack highlights BlackSky site monitoring over Melbourne, Australia in the last week of March 2019. Shipping traffic is visible at Swanson Dock East along with crane, container, truck, and train activity through the region in the northwest quadrant of the image. Vessels move along the Yarra River, vehicles drive along the M1 and M2, and trains are seen arriving and departing from Southern Cross Station. In the Docklands neighborhood, west of Melbourne’s Central Business District, Marvel Stadium rises over Central Pier and the waterfront. Skyscrapers, parks and construction in the Central Business District are visible to the east. Parking patterns, traffic conditions and train locations quickly reveal the first image in the time-series stack as a weekend collection. This is a pre-production time-series image stack that is downsampled and compressed and not fully representative of BlackSky imagery product quality. (Copyright BlackSky Global LLC. All rights reserved.)
“We’ve completed our mission performance validation scenarios, successfully calibrated the systems, and conducted extensive testing of the smallsats and end-to-end mission operations,” said Nick Merski, vice president of space operations at BlackSky. “These images from Global-1 and Global-2, our first-generation spacecraft, validate our ability to task, capture, and process high-quality images. The response from many of our early customers has been extremely positive and we’re excited to share these images with a wider audience.”
The satellites, which were developed, designed, and manufactured by BlackSky, provide 1-meter resolution color imagery with frequent revisit rates of 95 percent of the Earth’s population. The constellation’s goal is to provide a fast revisit rate critical for monitoring global events or locations, as well as low latency. The smallsats are used in conjunction with the BlackSky platform and ground architecture; together they serve as the nucleus of the company’s commercial offering which will help organizations detect changes and threats around the world.
“In addition to these on-orbit milestones, we have fully integrated our constellation with our global intelligence platform which now puts us on track to deliver unique imaging and analytic solutions to our customers,” added Brian O’Toole, CEO of BlackSky. “BlackSky is delivering on the promise of how the economics of high-performance smallsat constellations will enable a new era of global intelligence. With these milestones complete, we’re looking forward to commercial availability later this spring.”
Global-1 was launched Nov. 28, 2018 from the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Satish Dhawan Space Center aboard a PSLV launch vehicle. Global-2 was launched the following week on Dec. 3, 2018 on Spaceflight’s SSO-A mission aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The company is on track to launch Global-3 and Global-4 in the coming months and plans to launch up to six more satellites later this year.
Merski added, “With eight satellites on orbit by the end of this year, we expect to deliver more than five revisits a day over many sites of interest; by 2020, with more than 16 smallsats on orbit that will double and provide hourly monitoring. That’s a profound transformation for the market.”