A record breaking launch by India, on February 15th, 2017, put 104 satellites into orbit, including some 88 ‘Dove’ satellites owned by satellite imaging company Planet. The previous record for ‘most satellites launched in one go’ was 39 satellites and was held by Russia. Read more about the launch here.
PSLV-C37 at launch. Image credit: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
Planet already had a large number of Doves in orbit, but this launch more than doubled their fleet. Planet has now achieved its goal of being able to image all of earth’s landmass every day. The Doves have a resolution of 3-5m per pixel. Planet also owns the five Rapid Eye satellites, which have a resolution of around 5m per pixel. In addition, Planet is in the process of acquiring Terra Bella from Google, which comes with 7 sub-metre resolution satellites, and plans to launch many more.
Exactly how many Doves Planet has is a little unclear. Their previous blog post on the Terra Bella purchase, stated that they had a fleet of 60 medium resolution satellites. The blog post for this launch of 88 satellites states the new total is 144. Then later on in the same post, they say the entire fleet totals 149 satellites. We assume this is including the 5 Rapid Eye satellites, but not Terra Bella’s. So maybe 4 satellites were deorbited recently?
About Timothy Whitehead
Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.
and this means what?