Satellite companies are often misunderstood. They’re all data companies at their core but in the case of Satellogic, it’s a data company and a camera technology company. We recently spoke with Emiliano Kargieman, CEO of Satellogic, on “World of DaaS” podcast about the magic behind low orbit satellites.
Satellogic has 17 low orbit satellites in orbit capturing imagery. Their fleet flies at a speed of 27,000 km (16,000 miles) per hour, or approximately 7 km per second.
Their satellites orbit the earth across the north-south axis making it easy for them to cross the ground stations on the poles. This is particularly important because crossing those ground stations often enables Satellogic to keep their imagery data fresh.
Satellogic aims to have 60 satellites in orbit by 2023 allowing them to remap the planet weekly and to have 200 satellites in orbit by 2025 allowing them to remap the world daily.
Satellogic’s current satellite fleet has a three year lifespan, after which they deorbit naturally, while a third of their constellation in orbit is replaced yearly.
Satellogic is building a new throughput facility in The Netherlands, where 100 satellites per year can be built.
In order to be able to keep launching new satellites financially sustainable, one of the things Satellogic did was focusing on reducing their building and deployment costs in order to double their capacity every eighteen months.
This was possible by streamlining their supply chain and bringing most of the building process in-house. But the cost of launching satellites won’t go down much from here.
What we’ll likely see is a continuous improvement in the quality of the satellites and the data they collect – similar to how smartphones and laptops have stayed the same price over the past decade but their processing power has improved tremendously.
Emiliano did point out that the costs of launching satellites will go down over time if SpaceX’s Starship rocket continues to see success. This will enable new companies that will launch satellite that are not viable today.
Given that smaller low-orbit satellites have very different cameras and capabilities from traditional larger satellites, they both will continue to grow.
It is still complicated to buy satellite imagery today and that capacity among satellite operators worldwide is limited. This will change as more players enter the market resulting in more affordable, high resolution imagery on a continuous basis. Lower prices will enable more applications, use cases and end users.