According to the statement released on 24 June by the assistant head of Space Missions for Spaceflight Industries, Nick Merski, to SpaceNews, BlackSky firm plans to liftoff two satellites on a June anticipated operation. The spacecraft will act as co-passengers on SpaceX Starlink operation.
Spaceflight Inc., rideshare business of Spaceflight plans on the liftoffs for BlackSky. Soon after the SpaceX rideshare business, BlackSky has to await four satellites ready for takeoff on India’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle this year. Although there are some delays in the launch, hence the date for launch will be released later.
BlackSky consists of four satellites from 2018 liftoffs and 2019. The satellites were manufactured in-house by Spaceflight Industries. The firm plans on having 16 satellites in the Low Earth Orbit by 2021.
A joint venture of Spaceflight Industries and Thales Alenia Space called LeoStella plans on making 20 satellites under a deal they have with BlackSky. According to Merski, some of the new satellites will replace older satellites to help in the maintaining of the 16-satellite constellation.
The newly made satellites, LeoStella, consists of adjustments made during the manufacturing process. This swift imaging payload is accessible to commission and propulsion units powered by steam from Bradford Space. Each satellite has a weight of 55kg and a lifetime of 3 years.
Through Spaceflight Inc., BlackSky is still on the process of planning launches for the other six satellites. The firm plans to have six satellites in orbit in six months. Merski stated the liftoffs operations have are currently enormous for the SmallSat workforce, resulting in flexible launch contracts.
Last year, Intelsat offered a loan of $50 million to BlackSky, although, it has not fully completed the payment of the loan. Merski did not make it clear when BlackSky will finish paying the mortgage. However, LeoStella is still manufacturing more satellites.
BlackSky has a goal of managing a constellation of 60 satellites. Merski stated that the firm would pursue those figures in line with the market demand for its optical images. Having 16 satellites, BlackSky can manage to provide pictures with a resolution of 1M following hourly revisits to renowned cities. Having a constellation of 60 satellites helps to reduce the revisit time from 15 minutes to 10 minutes, and in turn, it provides a distinctive resolution under 1M.
BlackSky consists of a base series of six gateway points, one in which the firm built, while it uses the other five through leases. In the middle of 2022, BlackSky plans on having ten gateway points by having several deals and wholly-owned points.