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Seattle company unveils service to allow customers on-demand access to satellite images

Spaceflight Industries of Seattle has now revealed an on-demand satellite imagery service called BlackSky Spectra. It gives vetted customers the ability to task new images from 13 high-resolution satellites through a web interface. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - With services like Google Earth, anyone with a connection to the internet can zoom into almost any location on the planet. It’s a free service, but sometimes the images you get can be outdated.

Spaceflight Industries of Seattle has now revealed an on-demand satellite imagery service called BlackSky Spectra.

It gives vetted customers the ability to task new images from 13 high-resolution satellites through a web interface.

It’s not just photos, but customers can gather multi-spectral data including radar and radio frequency detection.

“Our goal is to make it really easy, really cheap and make sure the data is really interesting to you,” said Spaceflight Industries Chief Operating Officer Rakesh Narasimhan.

The company currently operates one of its own satellites in orbit and partners with 12 other providers.

Eventually plans call for a 60-company owned spacecraft it can task, which would make satellite imagery more cost effective for the average person.

“We are shooting for 90 bucks in 90 minutes,” said Narasimhan.

Customers who have been vetted against a government watch list of possible security threats can task a satellite, set the location, the resolution and time using a website or even a mobile phone and have the image taken and downloaded within 90 minutes or less.

“We are hoping that anybody in the planet can do this,” said Narasimhan. “Today the market is very proprietary, very high end and very expensive."

Once vetted, Narasimhan said there's no place in the world that’s off limits for an image. The images can zoom in as close as one meter per pixel, a government mandated limit. Only Israel has a no-super-close-up rule with two meters per pixel.

“The value proposition we have is really around making sure we have timely and relevant access to the data from space to anybody from their phone,” said Narasimhan.

The company is planning on launching more spacecraft soon, with a constellation completion date in 2020.

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