Move over Elon Musk. There’s a new super cool startup founded by three NASA scientists that is also saving the world by launching things into space.
It’s called Planet Labs and it just raised $US52 million in funding from Russian tycoon Yuri Milner among a long list of others.
(Skip straight to the photos of the satellites and Earth.)
This is on top of raising $US13 million just a few months ago in June from backers like Innovation Endeavours (Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s investment vehicle), Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Data Collective (home to VC Zachary Bogue, also known as Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s husband).
Planet Labs founders created a way to quickly build imaging satellites from low-cost PCs running the Ubuntu Linux operating system.
The satellites are being used to take an unprecedented number of pictures of the earth. That data will help climatologists and other scientists study the earth. Planet Labs will also sell the data for commercial uses to imaginative entrepreneurs who need it.
In 2013, the San Francisco-based company launched four test satellites (named Dove 1, Dove 2, Dove 3, Dove 4) and then built a fleet of 28 more (named Flock 1). Flock 1 is waiting at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility to be launched very soon. When they hit orbit, they will be “the largest constellation of Earth imaging satellites ever launched,” the co-founders say.
“Most people spend years building any one satellite. We, at the max, spent months building this fleet of satellites,” co-founder Will Marshall told Business Insider. “We won’t tell what it cost us … a much lower cost than a typical satellite or it wouldn’t be possible to build so many.”
Once the Fleet is launched it should be possible, for the first time, to just about see the whole globe at once.
Planet Labs shared some pictures with us.