BlackSky satellite delivers its first pictures

Image: Chinese mountain
An image from Spaceflight Industries’ BlackSky Pathfinder-1 satellite shows farms and industrial sites around Beijing. Click on the image for a larger version. (Credit: Spaceflight Industries / BlackSky)

Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries is sharing some of the first pictures of Earth ever taken by its low-cost, high-resolution BlackSky Pathfinder-1 satellite – and they’re spectacular.

The roughly 100-pound (50-kilogram) Pathfinder-1 spacecraft was launched from India’s Satish Dhawan Space Center on Sept. 26 as a ride-share payload on a PSLV-C35 rocket. Spaceflight Industries says the satellite cost $10 million to build and launch, which is relatively cheap for orbital imaging capability.

The Pathfinder-1 images released today confirm that the BlackSky concept works. The pictures provide breathtaking views of farms and industrial sites near Beijing, the suburbs surrounding Tokyo, and mountain ranges in China and Afghanistan.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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