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The Age of Low-Cost Earth Imagery From Space is About to Begin

Two new cameras head for orbit, with another constellation of Earth-viewing cubesats on deck.

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The first 28 of Planet Labs’ Dove satellites are due to reach orbit in mid-December.

Remember those exciting new Earth-viewing satellites we told you about in our September  issue? They’re starting to launch into space, as promised.

Last Thursday a Russian Dnepr rocket delivered 32 satellites to orbit, among them SkySat-1, the first of Skybox Imaging’s constellation of Earth cameras. On the same Dnepr were two of Planet Labs’  tiny cubesats, called Doves. The first operational “flock” of Doves is due to reach space in mid-December, on the same Antares rocket that carries the Cygnus 2 cargo vehicle to the International Space Station.

Yesterday, a Progress cargo vehicle blasted off from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, also bound for the space station. Onboard is an Earth-viewing camera built by Urthecast of Vancouver.

The age of near-real-time, low-cost Earth imagery from space is about to begin.

Here’s a video of the Dnepr launch:

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