A regulatory system crafted a quarter-century ago is failing to keep up with an evolving commercial remote sensing industry, which companies say is slowing down their efforts to develop new satellite systems and capabilities.
Planet, the San Francisco startup that began building a constellation five years ago to offer frequently updated Earth imagery, took a major step towards achieving that goal March 10 when it unveiled Planet Explorer Beta, an online geospatial data tool.
Astro Digital, a remote sensing company developing both its own satellite constellation and an analytics platform for that imagery, said March 2 it has raised $16.65 million to accelerate the company’s plans.
Rumors began circulating in December that two leaders in the small satellite Earth imaging field were on the brink of deal, when employees of Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Terra Bella began visiting the offices of San Francisco-based Planet. Although the two companies have not confirmed an agreement, Bloomberg reported Jan. 9 that Planet was in talks to acquire Terra Bella, the Mountain View, California company formerly known as Skybox Imaging.
Members of a House committee and a group of industry witnesses used a Sept. 7 hearing to criticize delays and uncertainty in commercial remote sensing licensing as well as “slow-rolling” of a report on the issue required by law.
Investor enthusiasm remains strong for companies that provide information drawn from Earth observation satellites, judging by $20 million in new investments for geospatial data company Orbital Insight.
As the commercial satellite imaging industry grows, it is worth revisiting what principles should guide the approach that government takes to regulate it.
There is a renaissance occurring in the aerospace community, and the way governments respond in the next couple of years may set the stage for what could be the next new industry.
A California company announced plans Nov. 19 to develop a constellation of small remote sensing satellites, entering a field that has become increasingly crowded in the last year.
DigitalGlobe is revamping its commercial strategy and focusing on profitability and share repurchases to bolster its sagging stock price.