Planet Labs Introduces More Powerful Pelican Imaging Satellites

Graphic representation of the Pelican satellite.


Earth imaging specialist Planet Labs announced on Tuesday a new line of imaging satellites called Pelican, as the company prepares to go public later this year.

The Pelican satellites are designed to upgrade the existing Planet constellation of 21 SkySats in orbit, starting in 2022.

“This is a higher resolution, and having more satellites in space means that in the end you will have more opportunities to revisit and [Pelican is] designed for what our users want, which is speed and near real-time insight, ”Planet co-founder and chief strategy officer Robbie Shingler told CNBC.

An employee builds a satellite at a manufacturing plant.


Schingler noted that the Pelican satellites will be smaller than the SkySat spacecraft, but “denser”, weighing between 150 and 200 kg each. This makes the Pelican satellites significantly larger than the Dove series of imagery satellites, with about 120 satellites that Planet also has in orbit.

In August, the company signed a multi-year launch agreement with SpaceX, making Elon Musk’s venture Planet a “launch service provider” for its satellites through 2025. Planet has over 600 clients, divided into four sectors: Civil, Agriculture, Defense. and exploration and cartography.

Planet also announced on Tuesday that it is adding synthetic aperture radar images from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellites to its database, adding another source of information for its customers. Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR, is another increasingly competitive market for private satellite imaging companies, especially for its ability to capture images through clouds and at night.

Notably, Planet is merging with a special acquisition company dMY Technology Group IV, which is listed on the NYSE under the ticker DMYQ. The deal gives the space company an equity valuation of $ 2.8 billion and is expected to close in the fourth quarter, with the result that Planet will be listed on the NYSE under the ticker PL.

“We’re in the business of subscribing to data,” Schingler said. “Observing the Earth can play a huge role in enabling people to get a big picture of the work to find out the truth about what is happening on the planet. We imagine the whole world every day. “

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