Planet Labs Raises $95 Million for Tiny Earth-Observation Satellites
Two of the 28 Dove cubesats that make up Planet Lab's "Flock 1" constellation are seen deploying into orbit from the International Space Station on Feb. 11, 2014.
Credit: NASA

Planet Labs has raised $95 million from investors in its latest round of financing, representatives of the San Francisco-based startup said.

Planet Labs designs and builds Earth-observation satellites that are just 12 inches long by 4 inches wide by 4 inches tall (30 by 10 by 10 centimeters). Each of these cubesats, which the company calls "Doves," can capture imagery with a resolution of 10 to 16.5 feet (3 to 5 meters).

The company's goal is to provide frequent, inexpensive, high-quality Earth imagery to a variety of customers, making information about our planet much more available. Planet Labs has already launched 73 Doves to orbit, all in less than two years. (The first prototypes blasted off in April 2013.)

The number would be pushing 100, but 26 Doves were lost when Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket exploded on Oct. 28, scuttling Orbital's third contracted cargo mission to the International Space Station for NASA. (To date, most Doves have been deployed from the space station, after arriving aboard Cygnus or SpaceX's robotic Dragon capsule.)

"Planet Labs is on its way to becoming the next great commercial space company," returning investor Steve Jurvetson, a partner at the venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson and a board member of Planet Labs, SpaceX and Tesla, said in a statement. "Leveraging the lower cost of access to space, businesses like Planet Labs are redefining space as the new frontier of innovation."

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