Seattle-based BlackSky to sell affordable, real time space photos

One company passed a major milestone as it builds a network of satellites to take pictures of the earth you can order online.

SEATTLE – Spaceflight Industries is building small satellites in Seattle, and now it's sister company BlackSky has launched its first demonstration satellite in a bid to make photos from space accessible to everyone.

Rakesh Narasimhan, the company's chief operating officer, said the company is able to charge $90 per picture and consumers can get it in near real time after ordering it online.  Narasimhan said getting a space photo from a government satellite could run thousands of dollars and be a picture from months ago.

BlackSky is planning to launch a constellation of 60 small satellites. In satellite terms, the cost is cheap, about $3 million to $5 million each, Narasimhan said. Satellites that can hitch rides from companies and governments in the launch business. 

The first demonstrator satellite Pathfinder-1 went up Sunday night aboard a rocket launched by India.  Pathfinder-2 will go up aboard a U.S. Satellite operated by private space company SpaceX in the next few months.

The uses for the photos are many, but the resolution won't be enough to pick you out of a crowd. 

The idea started out as a way to help farmers and has only grown. Narasimhan listed off the uses of the space photos.

"If you're the U.N. and you want to track refugee movements. If you want to help people in disaster locations. If you have people that have critical infrastructure they want to monitor," said Narasimhan. 

The two demonstrators launched this year will be followed by the first fully operational satellites in 2017 and could begin offering photos once four to eight satellites are launched.

Copyright 2016 KING


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