Va.-based smallsats startup BlackSky gets $50M Intelsat loan

BlackSky combines access to satellite images from its own satellites and others and fuses the images with other real-time sensor data and social media, news and other data feeds, using artificial intelligence and machine learning. (Courtesy BlackSky)

Herndon-based BlackSky, whose constellation of small satellites is making it a growing player in the Earth observation business, has secured a $50 million loan from satellite communications giant Intelsat.

BlackSky currently has four 1-meter satellites in orbit, with another four scheduled for launch in early 2020. It plans to have 16 “smallsats” in its constellation by early 2021.

BlackSky combines access to satellite images from its own satellites and others. It fuses the images with other real-time sensor data and social media, news and other data feeds, using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The company’s clients could use the data for everything from climate monitoring to intelligence gathering.

“BlackSky is enabling a whole new level of global intelligence by leveraging the economics of small satellites so that our customers will always be the first to know,” said Brian E. O’Toole, president and CEO of BlackSky. “This latest partnership is a vote of confidence in our ability to deliver industry-leading insights to our customers from one of the biggest players in the market.”

BlackSky says its own planned constellation and access to other satellites will eventually provide revisit rates over 95% of the Earth’s population.

BlackSky is building its business on its nimble small satellites, which, it says, can revisit a given location for imaging several times a day. Smallsats are also less expensive to put into orbit than traditional imaging satellites.

BlackSky is part of Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries.

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