Near Space Labs captured this image of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport with Swift, its stratospheric weather balloon. Note the main terminal's empty parking lot. Credit: Near Space Labs

SAN FRANCISCO – Near Space Labs is selling high-resolution imagery of major Texas cities for prices ranging from $10 to $50 per square kilometer.

The New York startup, which gathers the imagery with instruments hanging from weather balloons, seeks to attract business and government customers by offering weekly imagery updates and transparent pricing.

“Our aim is to move towards a fully self-serviced, enterprise experience with our product,” Near Space Labs CEO Rema Matevosyan told SpaceNews by email. “The response around our transparent pricing has been very positive, with many expressing a sense of relief.”

Starting with Texas, Near Space Labs plans to offer customers imagery with a resolution of 30-centimeters for all U.S. states through an application programming interface released in December.

In Texas, Near Space Labs is focusing on major cities as well as energy production facilities and land conservation sites in rural areas. The company, established in 2017 and previously called Swiftera, plans to sell imagery subscriptions to businesses and government departments, Matevosyan said.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique opportunity for Earth observation companies as customers look for ways to monitor facilities and operations remotely, Matevosyan said.

The pandemic also forced Near Space Labs to redesign its balloon deployment process.

“With travel restrictions, we had to figure out how to deploy hardware in a 100% remote way,” Matevosyan said. “Today, the Swifts, our robotic vehicles, are able to be shipped anywhere across the globe in a small suitcase. Along with a few videos and a manual, it’s easy to train new people to launch them.”

Customers who purchase one square kilometer of Near Space Labs’ 30-centimeter-resolution imagery pay $50. With a purchase of 75 square kilometers, the price drops to $25 per square kilometer. With a purchase of 390 square kilometers, it falls to $10 per square kilometer.

Near Space Labs does not disclose information on how much money it has raised from backers including Draper Associates, Wireframe Ventures, the Mini Urban-X accelerator and venture capital fund Urban Us.

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...