Seattle-based BlackSky – part of Spaceflight Industries – has announced its planned cooperation with two European space companies to help with the development, manufacturing and operation of its upcoming high-resolution, rapid revisit, Earth observation (EO) fleet. With Thales Alenia Space (owned by Thales 67 per cent, Leonardo 33 per cent), BlackSky parent, Spaceflight Industries will establish a US-based joint venture to provide a small satellite manufacturing base. Telespazio (owned by Leonardo 67 pre cent, Thales 33 per cent) will provide assistance in the development of BlackSky’s data distribution platform, Telespazio will also assist in distribution efforts in the foreign (to BlackSky) European market.
The BlackSky fleet is planned to consist of 60 spacecraft in the 50-100 kg range. This agreement is stated as being reflective of Thales Alenia Space’s drive to become a major global manufacturer of small sat constellations. Thales is already well known in the large non-GEO communications constellation industry with its ELITEBUS platform utillsed by a number of well-known operators: Iridium (Iridium NEXT), SES Networks (O3b) and Globalstar.