Planet’s acquisition of Terra Bella from Google will enable the capture of daily images of the entire planet
The companies made the historic announcement on February 3, this year. Previously rivals, they have now recognized their like-minded goals. Planet’s CEO and co-founder, Will Marshall, has expressed the admiration he has always held for the Terra Bella team. He sees the acquisition as complementary.
The sale price remains undisclosed
However, Google signed a multi-year contract enabling them to continue purchasing imaging data. This deal will see Planet become a world leader in this market place. Planet had previously hinted at difficulties they experienced acquiring customers. This was due to it only being able to obtain low resolution images, until now.
Terra Bella is a satellite imaging business that was initially purchased by Google in 2014
Google’s intention behind the purchase was to improve its Google Maps imaging. Google had aspirations to surround the Earth in satellites to provide global internet access. The intention behind this was to potentially improve disaster relief through this technology.
The umbrella company, Alphabet, bought Terra Bella for $500 million. Terra Bella had already acquired for itself $900 million prior to the purchase.
Formerly Skybox Imaging, Terra Bella began in 2009 in the living room of four Stanford Graduates
The founders included John Fenwick, Dan Berkenstock, Ching-Yu Hu, and Julian Mann. Their initial business plan was actually a course requirement of their entrepreneurship course.
They initially developed their first high resolution satellites with their own resources. The company’s funding derived from grants. Later they signed a contract with Space Systems Loral to build 13 further satellites. It was after the purchase by Google that they finally launched their satellites. The purchase of an Orbital Sciences Minotaur-C rocket enabled this.
Planet Labs co-founder Marshall, has expressed his excitement over the deal. A significant amount of Terra Bella employees will be transferring to Planet. This will enable the diversification of data and solutions that will be available.
Both Google and Planet have a mutual agreement to not disclose the details of the sale to members of the public
Initially founded as Cosmogia in 2010, Planet began as a small start up comprised of former NASA engineers and scientists. The founders included Will Marshall, Chris Boshuizen and Robbie Schingler. Initially they utilized 60 medium resolution satellites. But in 2015 they acquired the company Blackbridge. Blackbridge was operating a fleet of 5 Rapid Eye remote sensing satellites.
The acquisition of Terra Bella gives Planet exponentially more imaging capacity. This source now derived from Terra Bella’s 7 SkySat high resolution satellites.
Terra Bella co-founder, John Fenwick is confident that they share a vision with Planet Labs
Both companies have a like-minded approach to aerospace technology and had been in talks since December 2016. Also both companies had previously been discussing upcoming satellite launches for 2017.
There has been no news to say that they will not still go ahead. On February 3, Planet revealed that they intend to launch 88 Dove satellites. On February 14 an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) will launch them into a sun-synchronous orbit.
This will be the most satellites launched in a single time by Planet
Altogether that mission will include 100 small satellites. Terra Bella will supposedly still go ahead with a scheduled launch previously announced. Their Orbital ATK Minotaur-C will likely launch 6 SkySat spacecraft later this year.
Planet now looks forward to expanding its customer base and market presence. VP of Produce and Engineering at Google, Jen Fitzpatrick, is confident that Terra Bella will find a natural home with Planet.
A Bloomberg report suggests that Google may now own a stake in Planet, as part of this deal. However, this has not been confirmed.