Orbital Insight detected anomalies in automobile traffic caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. When this image was captured on April 20, 2020, there were 1,131 cars on Beijing's 4th Ring Road, compared with 500 cars counted on March 1, 2020. Credit: Orbital Insight

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Space situational awareness company Privateer acquired geospatial data analysis firm Orbital Insight in a deal announced May 6.

Privateer also raised $56.5 million in a Series A round first reported by Reuters.

Prior to the acquisition, Privateer was focused on objects in space, while Orbital Insight tracked activity on Earth.

“When you put those together to understand what’s in space and what’s going on on Earth, you can build an end-to-end solution for customers to understand both,” James Crawford, Orbital Insight chairman and founder, told SpaceNews at the GEOINT Symposium here.


Orbital Insight, founded in Palo Alto, California, in 2013, gathers data from satellites and aircraft with terrestrial sources like cellphone locations. The datasets are merged and analyzed in TerraScope, Orbital Insight’s geospatial intelligence platform.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, Orbital Insight relied on computer vision to count cars on 4th Ring Road, an expressway encircling Beijing, visible in Airbus’ Pleiades satellite imagery. The data showed how traffic waxed and waned during the pandemic.

Orbital Insight customers include the U.S. Air Force, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Defense Innovation Unit, Dow Jones, Mitsubishi and S&P Global. According to Crunchbase, Orbital Insight has raised $130.2 million to date.


Maui, Hawaii-based Privateer was founded in 2021 by Alex Fielding, co-founder of technology company Ripcord, and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. The founders quickly hired Moriba Jah, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and space environmentalist, as Privateer’s chief scientific adviser.

In 2022, Privateer unveiled Wayfinder, a visualization tool that combines data from the U.S. Space Command with data provided by satellite operators. Wayfinder is based on ASTRIAGraph, a web application developed by Jah.

“As we begin this new chapter together, Orbital Insight’s TerraScope analytics platform will integrate with Privateer’s Wayfinder data engine, bringing together data and intelligence across all domains, from sea to space,” Privateer said in a May 6 blog post. “The applications and possibilities are truly endless for this powerful combination of technologies.”

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...