WASHINGTON — Planet announced that its next six SkySat satellites will fly to low Earth orbit on SpaceX Starlink missions scheduled later this summer.
The six SkySats will be evenly split across two launches on SpaceX’s Falcon 9, Planet said May 13 in a news release. Planet’s spacecraft will be rideshare payloads on the Starlink launches.
The first three — SkySats 16-18 — will launch on SpaceX’s ninth Starlink mission expected to launch in June. The next three — SkySats 19-21 — will launch later this summer. Both missions will lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The deployment of six more SkySats would add coverage to Planet’s fleet of 15 currently in operation. These remote sensing satellites collect high-resolution imagery, a capability that the company needs to compete in the national security market. With its new satellites in a lower altitude, Planet will be able to offer 50-centimeter-resolution imagery from its SkySat constellation, an improvement from the 72-centimeter imagery provided by older satellites.
SkySats 1-15 operate in sun synchronous orbits. SkySats 16-21 will operate at a “mid-inclination” orbit of 53 degrees, complementing the sun synchronous fleet, the company said. ‘They will offer more targeted coverage, rapid revisits and raw image capacity in key geographic regions.”