Planet: The Startup That’s in Charge of the Biggest Private Satellite Fleet

MIT Technology Review
By Nick Romeo
February 28, 2017

Plan­et Labs is using its herd of orbit­ing cam­eras to take a new pic­ture of the entire Earth each day.


Plan­et Labs now has 149 of these small satel­lites in space.
When 88 of its tiny satel­lites were launched into orbit by India’s space agency ear­li­er this month, start­up Plan­et Labs helped set a world record for the largest one-time satel­lite deploy­ment ever.

This new flock of satel­lites also gives the Earth-imag­ing start­up a record of its own. With a total of 149 satel­lites in orbit, it now com­mands the largest pri­vate fleet in history.

Mike Safyan, Plan­et Labs’s direc­tor of launch and reg­u­la­to­ry affairs, pre­dicts that with­in three months this increased capac­i­ty will enable it to achieve its core mis­sion of tak­ing pic­tures of the entire sur­face of the Earth every day—something no oth­er com­pa­ny has done thus far. Already, Plan­et Labs is imag­ing approx­i­mate­ly 50 mil­lion square kilo­me­ters of the plan­et every day, which is dou­ble the entire sur­face area of North America.

By decreas­ing the cost and size of their satellites—each one is rough­ly the size of a back­pack and weighs around four kilograms—Planet Labs and a hand­ful of com­peti­tors have helped change the eco­nom­ics of launch­ing and main­tain­ing large fleets of satellites.

Check out the rest of the sto­ry at MIT Tech­nol­o­gy Review