Google sells satellite imaging business to Planet Labs

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Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Friday that it would sell its satellite imaging business, Terra Bella, to Planet Labs, a San Francisco-based private satellite operator founded by former NASA scientists.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed yet. They even added that as part of the deal, Planet Labs will acquire the Terra Bella business including the SkySat constellation of satellites. Jen Fitzpatrick, VP of Product and Engineering Google, even said that when they were thinking about a company that shares Terra Bella’s passion and strengths in high frequency satellite imaging,they found Planet labs as the natural home. Terra Bella has accomplished a lot in the past two years-including the design and launch of five more satellites. Planet labs is very excited to see what’s ahead for Terra Bella, and they also look forward to be a long-term customer of Terra Bella Google will enter into a multi-year contract to purchase Earth-imaging data from Planet Labs after the deal closes.

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Google had acquired Terra Bella, originally known as Skybox Imaging, for $500 million in 2014.The deal will help Planet Labs broaden its available data and add new customers. Planet Labs is one of several startups aiming to harness technology allowing satellites to become smaller and less expensive, making it easier to deploy large networks of satellites at less risk and lower cost than previously.

Will Marshall, co-founder and CEO of Planet Labs, said that the SkySat constellation of 7 high resolution satellites is highly complementary to Planet’s existing medium resolution 60-satellite fleet.

“The former [7 high resolution satellites] enable regular, rapidly updated snapshots of select areas of the globe at sub-meter resolution; the latter [60-satellite medium resolution fleet] regular, global coverage at 3-5 meter resolution. The two systems under one roof will be truly unique and will enable valuable new capabilities,” Marshall said.