Planet and SpaceX announced a multiyear deal on August 5 that identifies SpaceX as the company’s “go-to-launch supplier through the conclusion of 2025.” The number of launches or satellites covered by the deal was not disclosed by Planet. Planet is preparing to launch 44 SuperDoves into orbit on SpaceX Falcon 9 Transporter-3 rideshare flight in December, the first launch which is covered by the agreement.
Planet Chief executive officer Will Marshall stated in a statement, “I’m pleased to continue our cooperation with SpaceX.” “To date, we’ve had seven launches. But, more importantly, we’ve pioneered quick satellite planning, manufacture, and launch that only SpaceX and Planet could achieve together.”
Planet deployed 48 SuperDoves on SpaceX Transporter-1 flight in January, bringing its total number of Earth monitoring satellites to almost 200. In eight spectral bands, SuperDoves records imagery with a resolution of around 3 meters per pixel. In June and August 2020, SpaceX launched a total of six Planet SkySats into orbit, accompanying SpaceX Starlink broadband satellites. SkySats have a resolution of 50 centimeters. Planet credits increasing “demand for adaptable, high-resolution pictures of the Earth” to corporations seeking “daily global insights for respective industries,” according to a press statement announcing the collaboration with SpaceX.
Planet is known for changing satellite software and hardware regularly. Planet is “proceeding to innovate by swiftly manufacturing satellites with the latest breakthroughs in imagery technology,” as per the news release, with the 44 SuperDoves planned to fly in December. Ride-sharing missions by SpaceX have been demonstrated to be quite popular. The Transporter-1 mission launched 143 satellites, as well as the Transporter-2 mission launched 88 more on June 30. According to a press release from Planet, “SpaceX’s ridesharing program has enabled firms like Planet to reach their ambitious product launch targets.”
“We’re honored that Planet has picked SpaceX as its go-to launch provider,” said SpaceX vice president in charge of the commercial sales, Tom Ochinero, in a statement. Planet’s customers will be able to utilize its solutions with as minimal downtime as possible thanks to SpaceX’s regular launch cadence as demand for services of Planet continues to rise.”
Planet will continue to make partnerships with other launch providers even if SpaceX becomes the company’s preferred launch provider. The news announcement stated, “Planet maintains a varied launch manifest to avoid risks inherent in the launch industry.” Planet’s success in establishing the world’s largest Earth-observation constellation has relied heavily on booking trips on various rockets. Planet lost 26 satellites when the Orbital Sciences Antares rocket crashed in 2014, eight more when the SpaceX Falcon 9 broke up in 2015, and another 5 in 2020 July when the Rocket Lab Electron ceased to reach orbit. Planet can locate launches to the proper orbit in the appropriate time frame for any changing satellite project by dealing with a diversified manifest, according to the news release.