Skybox Imaging has released the world’s first high-resolution, high-definition videos of Earth taken by a commercial remote sensing satellite. Taken by SkySat-1, the first a planned constellation of 24 satellites, the video clips (have not yet been calibrated or tuned) show high-resolution views of Tokyo, Bangkok, Baltimore, Las Vegas, and Aleppo, Syria.


SkySat-1 can capture video clips up to 90 seconds long at 30 frames per second. The resolution is high enough to view objects like shipping containers that affect the global economy. (In these clips, you can make out automobiles moving along the highways.)

SkySat-1 is capable of sub-meter native color and near-infrared imagery. Other unique capabilities based on Skybox’s proprietary technologies will be announced in the near future. But the most revolutionary aspect is the cost, according to Skybox CEO Tom Ingersoll.

“SkySat-1 was built and launched for more than an order of magnitude less cost than traditional sub-meter imaging satellites,” Ingersoll said. “This extremely high performance satellite is made possible by proprietary technologies developed by Skybox, including the integrated satellite and imaging systems designs, which enable Skybox to launch a constellation of satellites that can provide imagery timeliness, quality and dependability that was never before possible.”

Skybox foresees numerous business applications for satellite imagery dynamic satellite video, including supply-chain and industrial-plant monitoring, maritime awareness, and environmental/humanitarian relief.

Skybox has raised $91 million from venture-capital firms Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Canaan Partners and Norwest Venture Partners. It is preparing to launch SkySat-2 in early 2014.

Written by Astro1 on December 27th, 2013 , Nanosatellites, Skybox Imaging

NASA’s Centennial Challenges prize program is seeking new ideas for prizes and new partner organizations. The question remains whether Congress provide allocate money for new challenges. Funding has been hit or miss (mostly miss) for the last decade.

Current information about Centennial Challenges is available at The new Notice of Opportunity is available here.


Written by Astro1 on December 21st, 2013 , Citizen Science (General), Innovation

Professor Freeman Dyson is encouraging amateur astronomers to look for exoplanets circling white dwarf stars. In this video, Dyson explains why such systems are appropriate targets for amateurs.


Written by Astro1 on December 21st, 2013 , Astronomy

Apollo 8 Earthrise

After the success of Apollo 7 in October 1968, the first test flight of the Apollo Command and Service Module (CSM), NASA announced a bold plan for Apollo 8. This flight, which would be the first manned flight of the Saturn V booster, was originally planned to test the Lunar Module (LM) in earth orbit, but progress on the lander was lagging. The LM test would be postponed by one flight. Instead, Apollo 8, piloted by Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders, would orbit the moon!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Greg Kennedy on December 20th, 2013 , Space History

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation has announced that Citizens in Space astronaut candidate Lt. Col. Steve Heck (USAF-ret.) is joining the Federation’s Suborbital Applications Researchers Group (SARG).

SARG chairman Dr. Steven Collicott said, “[Heck’s] work to bring spaceflight experiment opportunities to schools in his region is the type of hands-on STEM education which can be emulated around the country by other inspired educators. He is blazing a new trail in this exciting era of spaceflight.”

Citizen astronaut candidate Lt. Col. Steve Heck (USAF-ret.)

Written by Astro1 on December 18th, 2013 , Citizens in Space

This summer, we invited Popular Science editor-in-chief Jacob Ward to join us for the current phase of our citizen-astronaut training. The resulting story, Trials and Tribulations of Space School, appears in the January issue of Popular Science, which is on the newsstands now.

“Until this point, space, the final frontier, existed almost as an abstraction for most of us,” Jacob writes. “Now it is within reach. The democratization of space has arrived.”

The story is also available online here.


Written by Astro1 on December 18th, 2013 , Citizen Exploration, Citizens in Space

NASA’s Morpheus B lunar lander, derived from the Armadillo Aerospace Pixel/Texel lander, completed its first free flight at Kennedy Space Center, Florida today.


Written by Astro1 on December 10th, 2013 , Armadillo Aerospace

Maybe it was related to the first succcessful free flight of NASA’s Morpheus lander or the launch of China’s Chang’e 3 lunar probe. For whatever reason, there seems to be a pre-Christmas rush on planetary press conferences and announcements. In the last six days, three separate projects have revealed details of their plans for robotic missions to the Moon and Mars.

Moon Express

Last Thursday, Moon Express unveiled its MX-1 lunar-lander design in front of 10,000 people at the closing session of Autodesk University in Las Vegas.

Moon Express MX-1 lunar lander

Moon Express, which is competing for the Google Lunar X-Prize, said the lander will use hydrogen peroxide and kerosene as propellents. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used, by itself, as a monopropellent. Moon Express noted that hydrogen peroxide can be manufactured from water that is available on the Moon, which it believes “would be a game changer in the economics of lunar resources and solar system exploration.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Astro1 on December 10th, 2013 , Commercial Space (General), Innovation, Lunar Science, Robotics

Gemini 7

Gemini 7 lifted off from Complex 19 at Cape Kennedy, Florida, on December 4, 1965. (From 1963 to 1973, Cape Canaveral was named Cape Kennedy to honor slain President John F. Kennedy.) Frank Borman was Command Pilot and James Lovell was Pilot for the flight. The primary objective for Gemini 7 was for the pair to spend two weeks in orbit to evaluate the physiological effects of long duration space flight. The mission emblem designed by the astronauts featured an Olympic torch to symbolize the marathon nature of the flight. This was the fourth piloted flight of the program because six weeks earlier, the launch of Gemini 6 had been canceled.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Greg Kennedy on December 4th, 2013 , Space History