Satellite Imaging Startups Skybox, Planet Labs Race to Cover Earth

Small-satellite startups aim to cover the action on earth 24/7
Photo illustration by 731; Photographs by Getty Images (8)

Commercial satellite imaging is dominated by two big players, DigitalGlobe and Airbus Defence & Space (ADS). Each uses a handful of orbiting satellites to build photo archives and charges such customers as Google, Microsoft, and government agencies for the pictures. Clients can also pay extra for newer images of specific locales. These setups are impressive but don’t quite operate at Internet speed. Most satellite images on Google Maps and Google Earth are one to three years old.

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