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SpaceX sends Starlink and Planet satellites to orbit

SpaceX today launched dozens more of its Starlink broadband internet satellites, plus three piggyback satellites for Planet — marking the first of the company’s in-house rideshare deliveries to orbit.

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Images stream in from a new crop of satellites

Beijing as seen by SkySat
A satellite image of Beijing, captured by one of Planet’s SkySat spacecraft, shows the Chinese capital’s futuristic high-speed rail station toward the left edge of the frame. (Planet Photo)

More than 100 payloads have been put into orbit over the past couple of weeks, including 64 satellites riding a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and 31 satellites that were launched by an Indian PSLV rocket.

Some of those satellites are already beaming back pictures of our planet. For example, Planet has shared images from both of the SkySat high-resolution imaging satellites that served as the lead payloads for Seattle-based Spaceflight’s dedicated rideshare launch on the Falcon 9. That mission, known as the SmallSat Express or SSO-A, lifted off on Dec. 3 from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.

One of the pictures features the Beijing South Railway Station, a futuristic-looking, clamshell-like terminal that serves as the Chinese capital’s stopping point for high-speed trains from Tianjin and Shanghai. The other image focuses on the Capibaribe River running through the northeastern Brazilian city of Recife.

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Planet Labs to acquire Google’s satellite venture

An artist’s conception shows Terra Bella’s SkySat satelltes in orbit. (Terra Bella Illustration)
An artist’s conception shows Terra Bella’s SkySat satelltes in orbit. (Terra Bella Illustration)

Planet Labs says it has struck a deal to acquire Google’s Terra Bella satellite imaging operation and its constellation of SkySat satellites, less than three years after Google bought the operation for $500 million.

Financial terms for the acquisition weren’t announced.

The deal includes a multi-year contract under which San Francisco-based Planet would sell satellite data to Google.

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Planet lands in Seattle to work on satellite data

Karthik Govindhasamy
Karthik Govindhasamy, Planet’s chief technology officer and executive vice president of engineering, shows off a mural that depicts Dove satellites being deployed from the International Space Station. The mural graces the reception area of Planet’s Bellevue office. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

BELLEVUE, Wash. – Planet has landed … in the Seattle area.

The upstart satellite imaging company formerly known as Planet Labs has moved into a 3,000-square-foot office in Bellevue’s Northup North Office Park, and plans to have 10 software engineers working there by the end of the year.

Two engineers were hired for the office as of this week, when GeekWire paid a visit. That’s not counting Karthik Govindhasamy, a former Microsoft and Nokia engineer who is now Planet’s chief technology officer and executive vice president of engineering.

Govindhasamy is in charge of the Bellevue office, and he’s happy to be part of the Seattle area’s growing space community.

“We wanted to be close to the ecosystem,” Govindhasamy said. “SpaceX is nearby. Microsoft is in the neighborhood.”

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