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Space company Planet Labs unveiled its Pelican line of satellites that will replace the existing constellation of 21 SkySat satellites in orbit by early 2022.
On Tuesday, October 12, earth imaging and data specialist Planet Labs unveiled a new line of imagery satellites dubbed Pelican. The announcement from Planet Labs comes just ahead of its public listing later this year.
The Pelican range of satellites will upgrade the company’s existing constellation of 21 SkySat satellites in orbit. Planet Labs said that it plans to start launching these satellites in early 2022. Speaking to CNBC, Planet co-founder and chief strategy officer Robbie Schingler said:
“It’s higher resolution, and having more satellites in space means that you actually end up having a higher revisit capability and [Pelican is] being designed for what our users want – which is speed and near-real time understanding about what’s happening”.
As per the Planet Labs co-founder, the Pelican satellites will be smaller in size than the SkySat spacecraft. However, they will be denser with a mass anywhere between 150 to 200 kilograms each. This is what makes the Pelican substantially larger than the 120 Dove of imagery satellites.
More importantly, Planet Labs recently signed a multi-year agreement with SpaceX wherein the Elon Musk company will make “go-to” launch providers for the Planet Labs’ satellites through 2025. Currently, Planet Labs has more than 600 customers across different sectors. The four major ones include defense and intelligence, agriculture, civil, and mapping.
Planet Labs Adding Synthetic Aperture Radar Imagery
The company also made another major announcement on Tuesday. It stated that it plans to add “synthetic aperture radar imagery from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellites to its database”. This will further lead to an additional source of information for its customers.
Synthetic aperture radar, or SAR, is the next big competitive market, especially among private players operating in this space. The emerging SAR technology allows users to capture images through clouds at night time.
As per reports, Planet Labs will be combining with a special purpose acquisition company dMY Technology Group IV, which currently trades on NYSE under the DMYQ ticker symbol. This deal will give Planet Labs a $2.8 billion equity valuation. The space is planning to go public this quarter on the NYSE index under the ticker symbol PL.
“We are a data subscription business. Earth observation can play a huge role in getting people on a common operating picture for truth, around what’s happening on the planet. We image the whole world every day,” said Schingler, explaining the business.