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Why small satellites are big for startups

Image: Arkyd 6
An artist’s conception shows Planetary Resources’ Arkyd 6 prototype Earth-observing satellite, which is due for its maiden launch this year. (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Small satellites, and the startups that make them, are becoming a big deal – and there’s a fresh flurry of industry reports that explain why.

The bottom line is that new types of satellite data can give earthbound businesses an edge.

For example, a hedge-fund manager can estimate how much revenue Walmart will report by counting the cars in the stores’ parking lots. Farmers can use custom-delivered, hyperspectral imaging to monitor how their crops are doing. Petroleum companies can get a quick alert on potential pipeline leaks.

Seattle-area companies like Planetary Resources and Spaceflight Industries are betting millions of dollars on the rapid growth of next-generation satellite services. And then there’s the rush to deliver internet services via satellite: That’s the focus of SpaceX’s Seattle office.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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