EarthDaily taps Loft Orbital to build and operate $150 million constellation

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TAMPA, Fla. — EarthDaily Analytics (EDA) said Jan. 18 it has selected condosat operator Loft Orbital to build, launch and operate a fleet of 10 Earth-observation satellites on its behalf. 

Under the $150 million deal, modified OneWeb satellite platforms that Loft Orbital recently ordered from Airbus will be used for EDA’s constellation.

EDA’s deal with Loft Orbital comes a week after the Vancouver-based startup said it was moving ahead with a planned 2023 deployment of its “super-spectral” constellation after completing an “extensive industry procurement survey.”

EDA was formed by Antarctica Capital in February 2021 after the private equity company bought parts of UrtheCast that sought creditor protection to avoid bankruptcy.

Antarctica Capital carved out satellite designs, software, customer contracts, intellectual property and other parts from UrtheCast to create EDA — but did not buy the company’s satellites and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) assets.

EDA said undisclosed partners started building payloads capable of five-meter resolution imagery in September 2021, comprising three “different camera types” and a broad spectral range from visible to thermal wavelengths.

The company expects to deploy the full constellation of nine satellites, with one orbital spare, in 2023 for agriculture, insurance, commodity trading and other markets.

EDA CEO Don Osborne said plans call for deploying the 10 satellites across two missions in 2023.

Loft Orbital plans to integrate EDA’s payloads with buses derived from the Arrow satellite platform that OneWeb uses for its broadband megaconstellation. 

Airbus is adapting Arrow for non-broadband applications for Loft Orbital, which announced Jan. 14 that it had ordered more than 15 of the buses to scale-up its condosat business.

Loft Orbital co-founder and CEO Pierre-Damien Vaujour told SpaceNews that EDA is the company’s biggest customer to date, in terms of the number of satellites being ordered.

“However, we do have a number of other customers based on the shared use of multiple satellites,” Vaujour added.

He said “some of” EDA’s satellites will be assembled at Airbus facilities in Toulouse, France.

The rest will be built in Merritt Island, Florida, where Airbus runs an automated production factory through a joint venture with OneWeb.

Loft Orbital will handle spaceflight operations under its contract with EDA, but will provide systems enabling the Canadian firm to operate the imaging payloads and downlink the data directly to its cloud-based ground segment.

The data will feed into the analysis that EDA’s EarthDaily Agro division currently provides through third-party satellites.