In what is probably the most ambitious attempt at global surveillance ever, Planet Labs, a space imagery startup, wants to take a daily picture of every angle of the earth at a resolution of five meters or less. To do so, the company needs 150 satellites in orbit. Today, it has 73, with all but six launched in 2014.
Getting things into space is hard. Planet Labs lost 26 satellites in October when the Antares rocket exploded just after liftoff. If not for that loss, it would have 99 satellites in orbit. But still, the San Francisco-based startup has gotten a lot done in a short time.
One thing Planet Labs doesn’t lack is financial support. Today it’s announcing a $70 million Series C round led by Data Collective (which is almost completely closed) and a debt facility of $25 million from Western Technology Investment, for a total of $160 million raised. In addition to that, CEO Will Marshall said the company has signed contracts to sell its data that will be worth more than $160 million in revenue.
Who’s buying the data? Agriculture, mapping, governmental and humanitarian customers, Marshall said.