Science & Technology

Spaceflight signs up Google’s Terra Bella for satellite launch on SpaceX rocket

Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries says it’s made a cope with Terra Bella to have the Google subsidiary’s Earth-observing satellites launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket subsequent yr.

The settlement makes Terra Bella, which was referred to as Skybox Imaging earlier than Google bought it for $500 million in 2014, the lead payload supplier on a dedicated-rideshare mission organized by way of Spaceflight Industries’ launch providers entity, identified merely as Spaceflight.

“At this level, it seems to be like Terra Bella could be the solely lead,” Spaceflight’s president, Curt Blake, advised GeekWire in an e-mail immediately. Thus far, seven of Terra Bella’s SkySat satellites have been put into orbit, and that quantity is anticipated to develop to 24. Blake declined to say what number of of Terra Bella’s satellites can be launched on Spaceflight’s mission in late 2017.


Spaceflight purchased the entire Falcon 9 flight from SpaceX a year ago, with the goal of launching an array of different individuals’s satellites from California’s Vandenberg Air Pressure Base. At this time the corporate says it’s offered 90 p.c of the obtainable capability, comprising greater than 20 payloads from 10 completely different international locations.

The quantity being charged for launching Terra Bella’s satellites was not launched, however Spaceflight’s price list means that it prices about $5 million to place a 150-kilogram spacecraft into low Earth orbit.

Along with Terra Bella’s satellites, the confirmed payloads embody NEXTSat-1 from the Korea Superior Institute of Science and Know-how, a know-how demonstration satellite that may also research star formation and house storms; a radar-mapping satellte from Finnish startup Iceye; and three satellites from HawkEye 360 that may fly in formation and use radio indicators to watch transportation.

“We’re seeing a tide shift within the trade’s expectation for routine, dependable and inexpensive entry to house,” Blake mentioned in a news release. “The willingness of outstanding industrial organizations to affix forces for the development of worldwide initiatives could be very encouraging to the smallsat neighborhood, and to society as an entire.”

Spaceflight says it has negotiated the launch of almost 120 satellites, with contracts to place greater than 150 extra satellites into orbit by 2018. The largest satellite array, comprising 89 spacecraft, is because of be deployed by Spaceflight’s Sherpa tug from a Falcon 9 rocket subsequent yr. A kind of satellites is the Arkyd 6A, an Earth-observing spacecraft constructed by Redmond-based Planetary Resources.

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