Eight hours ago, a Soyuz rocket successfully lofted 48 of our Flock 2k satellites into space. And just moments ago, all 48 of them successfully deployed two-by-two into orbit. This launch marks our 14th successful Dove launch and deployment.
These satellites were injected into a Sun Synchronous Orbit with an approximately 11:30 am equator crossing time—that’s later than the 9:30 am crossing time of our other Sun Synchronous Flocks. This will allow us to expand our open ocean monitoring capabilities and reach sub-daily imaging in certain regions around the globe. Couple this robust monitoring constellation of Doves with our five medium-res RapidEye satellites, and our tasked high-res SkySats, and you have commercial imaging’s largest, most diverse satellite fleet.
Once the Doves of Flock 2k make first contact, they will tweet a hello, and begin commissioning themselves. Our Mission Operations team has taken advantage of our frequent launch schedule and prolific flight heritage to fine-tune our fully automated onboard commissioning process, which includes: reporting telemetry, panel deployment, detumbling, and sensor calibration. Once the Doves have stabilized, we’ll employ differential drag to gradually space them out evenly along their orbital plane. In total, the commissioning and orbital spacing will take a handful of months, but the Doves will begin imaging much sooner than that.
We here at Planet are excited by another successful launch and the unique products this expanded monitoring constellation can bring to our customers in the agriculture, government, finance, energy and consumer mapping sectors. To take a look at the industries gaining insights from our data, visit planet.com/markets.