A startup that hopes to provide real-time video streaming of Earth from space has announced it will launch its first satellite in 2021, with four more satellites slated for launch in 2022.
UK-based Sen said he had under NanoAvionics contract based in Lithuania to build the five satellites, collectively called EarthTV, which will be equipped with cameras to beam ultra-high definition (UHD) video to Earth from space. The satellites will be among the first to observe events on Earth unfold in real time, enabling a wide range of services for businesses and consumers.
“Sen’s vision is to become a space video company, delivering real-time video from space with a focus on environmental events and human movement,” said Charles Black, Founder and CEO of Sen. “[There are already] companies capturing still images at different resolutions. What we are doing is introducing a new type of data to the market, which is video. »
The satellites will be launched into a sun-synchronous orbit, which stays in constant sunlight, about 500 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. Each so-called nano-satellite, less than two meters in diameter, will need to use its camera to view Earth in a variety of resolutions, ranging from 250 meters to just 1.5 meters.
Events that will be observed will include environmental disasters, such as floods and wildfires, as well as movements of large groups of people. “We believe video data will help organizations assist displaced people by providing real-time or very timely information,” says Black.
Each steerable satellite will be able to focus on these events taking place on the ground and broadcast them in real time. Businesses will be able to pay Sen to access the service, while members of the public will be able to watch the stream and get a live glimpse of the Earth’s surface via an app. “This will allow individuals to watch and follow events,” says Black.
Sen has already demonstrated his abilities on a satellite launched by the Russian organization RSC Energia in February 2019, highlighting the impressive quality of their video footage. But the ultimate goal is to operate a fleet of spacecraft in orbit, providing vast amounts of video from Earth’s surface.
“I would like to target something like 100 [satellites in orbit]“says Black. “So it won’t be a ‘mega constellation’. But it will be a place where we’ll have real-time video of virtually any location on Earth.”
Sen’s goals don’t just extend to Earth orbit, as the company also hopes to eventually send some of its video spacecraft to the Moon or even Mars. The goal here is to have spacecraft in place to observe the arrival of future human missions, planned by organizations like NASA and SpaceX, and to broadcast videos to people on Earth.
“As people stretch out on the Moon, Sen wants to tell this story,” says Black. “We believe society needs independent media that can tell the story of government agencies and private companies exploring the Moon. We are targeting the Moon in the mid-2020s at the earliest, and Mars from 2030.”
For now, the focus is on Earth. And with launches beginning next year, the company hopes to deliver unique views of the planet from space. “With the real-time capability, we believe there is very little similar data available at the moment,” Black says.