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Orbital Sidekick launches latest hyperspectral satellite

19 Jun 2023

Third of six observation units capturing 512 bands in the short-wave infrared spectrum arrives in orbit.

San Francisco startup Orbital Sidekick (OSK) says it has now deployed the third “microsatellite” in its planned constellation of six hyperspectral imagers, with the remainder to follow by early next year.

Intended to monitor gas emissions, water levels, oil spills, soil composition, forest biodiversity, crop health and more, each of the units is capable of capturing 512 spectral bands across the visible to shortwave infrared (VSWIR) region.

The latest “Global Hyperspectral Observation Satellite” (GHOSt) deployment followed the initial two launches aboard the SpaceX Transporter 7 rideshare mission in April.

Global coverage
Capable of capturing wavelengths from 400 to 2500 nm, the full constellation is expected to offer daily monitoring of most locations around the globe.

OSK’s CEO and co-founder Dan Katz said of the development: “This latest launch further delivers on OSK’s mission objectives, including operation of the most powerful hyperspectral constellation on the market.

“GHOSt-3 will further accelerate our delivery of insights and intelligence products to commercial, government, and scientific entities for swift, informed decisions while further enabling their sustainability and security efforts across the world.”

OSK has pursued a collaborative approach with the energy industry, and says it now has partnerships with seven of the ten largest pipeline operators in North America - including Williams, ONEOK, Energy Transfer, and Colonial Pipeline Co. (CPC).

Other key relationships have been established with the intelligent Pipeline Integrity Program (iPIPE), which supports emerging technologies for improved pipeline integrity and leak detection, as well as the US Geological Survey and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The company also has several contracts in place to supply hyperspectral data to the US Department of Defense, through its partnerships with In-Q-Tel, the US Air Force, and the US Space Force.

In addition, the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) has selected OSK for its latest focus area study of commercial space-based hyperspectral imaging capabilities.

Environmental management
The startup’s COO Tushar Prabhakar, who co-founded the firm with Katz, commented: “This launch will significantly broaden OSK’s operational monitoring and data gathering scope, especially for environmental management applications.

“Data from our satellites will be critical in helping global organizations closely monitor emissions, water levels, gas leaks, oil spills, soil composition, forest biodiversity and crop health in unprecedented detail and at faster speeds.”

Back in 2021, OSK raised $16 million in a series A round of venture funding - at which point it had been expecting to launch the satellite constellation in early 2022.

According to its most recent filing with the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), it had raised a further $7 million by October 2022.

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