Skybox Imaging is the first company in the world to post a high-definition video of earth, which was posted to the public on their company YouTube channel. The video was filmed from a camera aboard the commercial satellite with remote sensing, SkySat-1. This satellite is the first Skybox satellite for a planned 24 to be aimed at Aleppo, Syria, with others pointed at Las Vegas, Baltimore, Bangkok and Tokyo.
SkySat-1 is capable of grabbing 90 seconds of video at a frame rate of 30 fps or frames per second. The camera’s resolution wanders between being able to track objects the size of shipping containers to not being able to see detailed human activity. The video of earth released by Skybox was (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) in 1080p high-definition resolution. This doesn’t seem like big news in video quality here on earth, but satellite imagery has higher requirements on an orbital craft.
Along with high-definition video, SkySat-1 also has some features that include near-infrared imagery and capabilities of sub-meter native color. The video clips are some of the best and high-quality color imagery from any commercial satellite.
The CEO of Skybox, Tom Ingersoll, said that “SkySat-1 was built and launched for more than an order of magnitude less cost than traditional sub-meter imaging satellites.” The CEO went on to say that it was made possible with Skybox’s proprietary technologies. This technology includes the imaging system design and integrated satellite. This will see Skybox launching an entire constellation of their satellites to provide timely imagery with dependability and quality that wasn’t possible in the past.
The uses of the commercial satellite are numerous. Skybox is capable of monitoring supply chains, industrial plants, humanitarian and environmental relief as well as maritime reconnaissance.
Co-founder and chief product officer of Skybox, Dan Berkenstock, said that it was an important point regarding the remote sensing satellite industry and all sizes of businesses around the world. Berkenstock called the high-quality video of earth a milestone for delivering timely, accessible and affordable images. He said that he attributes the success by using Silicon Valley’s web technologies and pioneering the latest generation of applied uses for the world’s markets and future markets to come.
The National Reconnaissance has had this technology for years but Skybox is the first to make the technology available on a commercial level.
Skybox has managed to raise venture capital from many sources. Norwest Venture, Canaan, Bessemer Venture Partners and Khosla Ventures have given Skybox a total of $91 million thus far.
Skybox plans to announce even more unique functions and capabilities taken from their proprietary technologies in the future. SkySat-1’s identical sibling SkySat-2 will be launched in the first part of 2014 from a Soyuz2.1b rocket. SkySat-2 was originally scheduled to be launched this year, but the launch was pushed back over the New Year.
SkySat-1 was launched as the 19th mission of the Dnepr-1 rocket program in the Ukraine last month. Two weeks ago Skybox showed off the SkySat-1’s first sub-meter color still images before releasing their latest video.
Only four other companies are NOAA-licensed to be able to provide high-definition imagery of earth from a space satellite but Skybox was the first to make a video public.
By Brent Matsalla