Planet Labs is an Earth-imaging company based in San Francisco, California. It operates a constellation of around 200 shoebox-sized satellites that take high-resolution photographs of Earth’s surface. Planet signed a multi-launch agreement with SpaceX to launch multiple through the end of 2025.
The first planned launch under the agreement will be SpaceX’s Transporter-3 Mission. It is the third rideshare SmallSat Rideshare Program mission, which offers cost-effective launch services for dozens of customers to deploy payload to orbit by sharing Falcon 9 fairing. The Transporter-3 rideshare will launch dozens of small satellites and spacecraft owned by multiple companies and organizations from the U.S. and abroad. The previous pair of Transporter rideshare missions launched around 100 individual payloads each, ranging from CubeSats, satellites, small spacecraft and orbital transfer vehicles.
A total of 44 Planet SuperDove satellites will be deployed alongside other payloads during the Transporter-3 mission, scheduled to liftoff no earlier than January 13 at 10:25 a.m. EST from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station's Space Launch Complex-40 [date is subject to change]. The payloads will be launched into a Sun-Synchronous orbit (SSO). Transporter-3 will be SpaceX’s second rocket launch of 2022. “I’m excited to continue our partnership with SpaceX. We’ve had seven launches to date. But more than that, together we’ve pioneered rapid planning, manufacturing, and launch of satellites that only Planet and SpaceX could together have achieved,” said Planet Co-founder and CEO Will Marshall.
Excited to be launching 44 SuperDoves next week!— Will Marshall (@Will4Planet) January 7, 2022
Here's the team with them before shipping to Florida where they'll be riding a @SpaceX 🚀 to join our ~200 satellite fleet; enhancing our daily scan of 🌎!
Let's do this! @Planet 🛰️🛰️🛰️🛰️ (x11!) pic.twitter.com/OxKp38TzWG
“We’re honored that Planet has chosen SpaceX as its go-to launch provider,” said SpaceX Vice President of Commercial Sales Tom Ochinero. “As the demand for Planet’s services continues to soar, SpaceX’s regular launch cadence will allow Planet’s customers to use its services with as little downtime after manufacturing as possible.”
Planet’s SuperDoves Flock 4 satellites feature technology that enables the constellation to capture around 1.2 million pictures per day. The satellite constellation enables customers to see geographical regions on Earth for a wide range of applications, including analyzing climate change and for national security purposes. The satellites have captured aerial views of important events around the globe, such as: disasters caused by weather, wars, missile strikes, and geographical changes. Over the years the imagery has provided vital insight for rescue and rebuilding efforts.
Featured Image Source: Planet Labs