Satellogic Aims To Launch A Constellation Of Small Imaging Satellites Around Earth

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Gillmor Gang Live 06.20.14

Satellogic is an Argentinian startup that says it just had its third successful satellite launch.

The company was founded by CEO Emiliano Kargieman, who previously founded Core Security Technologies and came up with the vision for Satellogic while attending Singularity University in 2010. Describing existing satellite technology as “archaic,” Kargieman said he wants to launch a network of hundreds of satellites in Low Earth orbit that will allow customers to get “an image of any place on Earth in high resolution and in real time.”

That’s an ambitious vision, and Satellogic certainly has quite a bit to do before then. This satellite, dubbed Tita, is the first one that the company has launched with high resolution imaging capabilities, Kargieman said. However, the plan is to “freeze” the design of the satellites soon and get more ambitious about launching them, with 10 to 15 launches on the timeline for 2015.

Kargieman added that with existing satellites, it takes usually about three days to get two consecutive photos of the same spot on Earth, while with Satellogic satellites (which are built with newer electronics technology and are the size of “a desktop computer hard drive”) customers will supposedly be able to get an image in five minutes.

Asked about the privacy implications, Kargieman said the satellites will, for example, be able to photograph cars but not individual license plates, so it shouldn’t be too intrusive.

So what will the satellites actually be monitoring? Kargieman said they’ll give customers a window on many of the processes related to what he described as “the biggest challenges that we’re going to face in the next 10 or 20 years” — food production and security, energy production and distribution, and natural resource production.

Google seems interested in satellite images too, having recently purchased Skybox Imaging for $500 million.

“I was very happy to see that,” Kargieman said. “The new space revolution, I think, will come from small startups and companies from different parts of the spectrum.”

The company says that it has raised $4.5 million million from Kargieman and undisclosed angel investors.

Oh, and you can see a video of the Tita satellite being prepared for launch below. I was hoping to get a video of the launch itself but apparently we’d need to get approval from the Russian Ministry of Defense, so, uh, hopefully you enjoy this one, as well as the promotional video below.