SpyMeSat App Developer Looking To Contract More Satellites

by

Updated June 26 at 4:12 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The developer of the SpyMeSat mobile app that allows users to order satellite imagery from their smartphones is looking to contract with another satellite operator this fall.

Greenbelt, Maryland-based Orbit Logic now uses Israel’s EROS-B satellite to take pictures of locations specified by SpyMeSat users and is looking to add two more satellites to the app’s stable, Ella Herz, Orbit Logic’s chief operating operator, said in a June 24 interview at the U.S Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s GEOINT 2015. Symposium in Washington.

SpyMeSat is the first commercial mobile app that lets users task an imaging satellite from their phones, Herz said.

EROS-B, owned by Israel’s ImageSat International, provides black and white images at a 70-centimeter resolution. SpyMeSat pricing for tasking an image starts at $500. Color images could come from satellites that sign on to SpyMeSat in the fall, Herz said.

SpyMeSat app. Credit: Orbit Logic
SpyMeSat app. Credit: Orbit Logic

Herz would not say which satellites her company is courting as SpyMeSat adds, but she did say “they will not be American.”

Under a 2015 contract with ImageSat, proceeds from images tasked by SpyMeSat users are split between Orbit Logic and ImageSat. Herz expects future contracts to work the same way.

The $1.99 SpyMeSat app debuted in 2013 and currently has more than 8,000 downloads, Herz said. Earlier versions of SpyMeSat did not let users task satellites but did let them buy archival DigitalGlobe imagery for around of $10 a scene. A recent June updated added the ability to task the EROS-B satellite.

In a June 26 interview, Herz said Orbit Logic has focused on marketing the newest version to the aerospace industry but plans to widen its scope and see what other markets are interested in the app’s new capabilities.

Orbit Logic looked into working with some American imaging providers like Mountain View, California-based Skybox Imaging and DigitalGlobe, but neither was interested in providing tasking opportunities, Herz said.

Orbit Logic also considered contracting with San Francisco-based Planet Labs, but the company’s Dove cubesats “only look straight down,” Herz said. That makes them an impractical choice for user-requested tasking, because they cannot see objects at an angle to their flight path.