Rendering of Xplore's multi-sensor Xcraft satellite. Credit: Xplore

WASHINGTON — Xplore, a startup based in Redmond, Washington, announced Jan. 31 it was granted a remote-sensing license from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the company’s first mission to low Earth orbit.

The company plans to launch its first Xcraft small satellite in the fourth quarter of 2023 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare. 

The NOAA license “allows us to bring to market powerful multi-sensor capabilities that will let customers observe and understand our planet and the surrounding space environment,” said Lisa Rich, Xplore founder and chief operating officer.

The Department of Commerce through NOAA licenses the operation of private remote-sensing space systems under the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992.

The Xcraft will carry multiple sensors for Earth observation, space domain awareness and astronomy, Rich said. The payloads will offer hyperspectral imaging data, high-resolution video and ultraviolet data products, she added. “Advanced data products will be offered by fusing data generated by our diverse sets of imagers.”

Xplore said its hyperspectral imagery will be offered at 2-meter and 5-meter resolution.

The company’s main business is data as a service. It announced in February that it has raised $16.2 million since it was founded in 2018.

A year ago Xplore announced an agreement with Orbital Astronautics to launch a remote-sensing payload on OrbAstro’s ORB-6 platform but that mission suffered delays. Xplore said it could not comment on the status of the OrbAstro mission.

The company’s long-term plan is to build a constellation of 12 Xcraft platforms carrying eight primary instruments. 

Rich said the constellation “has been designed but at this time we are not disclosing information on the capacity, orbits or deployment timeline.”

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...