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The planet’s first hyperspectral satellite is ready for launch


The planet’s first hyperspectral satellite is ready for launch to help the Earth observation operator become profitable early next year.


The operator said in the middle of earnings reports on June 6 that Tanager-1 had arrived at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California ahead of a joint SpaceX mission that could launch as early as July.

Will Marshall, Planet’s co-founder, CEO and president, told investors that the 100-foot-resolution satellite will expand its optical array by collecting data in more than 400 spectral bands to capture events invisible to the human eye.

In March, the San Francisco-based company announced a $20 million deal to sell Tanager-1 services to Carbon Mapper, a nonprofit that aims to provide decision makers with data on supermethane and carbon dioxide emissions.

Marshall emphasized that Planet has seen significant interest in hyperspectral data from governments and commercial sectors such as agriculture and oil and gas, but the market is still in its infancy.

“We think this is an exciting space over the long term, but it’s an emerging market,” he said on a call to discuss earnings for the first quarter of the fiscal year in the three months to April 30.

Planet Chief Financial Officer Ashley Johnson added that the Carbon Mapper contract also depends on underlying data produced by Tanager-1 and subsequent hyperspectral satellites, so Planet does not expect to generate revenue from the deal in the next few quarters. .

Planet, which has outlined plans to build and operate two hyperspectral satellites initially targeted for launch in 2023, is the latest company to aim to create a commercial market for hyperspectral services traditionally focused on the defense market.

record revenues

Planet posted record revenue of $60.4 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2025, up 15% from last year, mostly from government customers. The National Intelligence Agency recently extended a contract to continue using Planet’s image and data archive services, according to Marshall.

Planet also recently completed two seven-figure pilots focused on AI data solutions for the Department of Defense and expects to acquire more pilots, he said.

“These pilot projects require monitoring, detection and reporting,” he said, “and reflect a growing trend to derive targeted insights from our global data.

“We are also running larger pilot projects with other government agencies, and we believe our unique daily screening gives us an advantage. We believe all of these pilot projects can eventually turn into very large operational contracts.”

Planet also launched a new software platform in April designed to combine Earth observation datasets with analytics to help government and commercial customers analyze, communicate and disseminate imagery information.

However, the company noted during its earnings report that headwinds remain in the business market, particularly in the agricultural sector. Overall, business customers accounted for 22% of Planet’s total revenue in the first quarter of fiscal 2025; In the previous quarter, this rate was 29%.

Marshall said the company wants to improve its work with commercial customers by pushing for more partner-focused services, pointing to a recent three-year contract with a Brazilian utility that uses its data to monitor reservoirs and power lines.

Overall, Planet reported a loss of $8.4 million in adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) in 1Q25, compared to a loss of $19.1 million in the same period last year.

This was the fourth consecutive decline in quarterly adjusted EBITDA losses, and Johnson said the company is on track to achieve adjusted EBITDA profitability in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2025. In its next fiscal quarter, the company expects to report revenue of $59 million to $63 million and an adjusted EBITDA loss of $7 to $10 million.

Built in-house, Tanager-1 will be the second of Planet’s next generation of small satellites to fly. This will follow the November launch of Pelican’s high-definition displayer using the same platform.

Tanager-1 is planned to be joined by 35 Earth optical imaging satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket. Planet named SuperDoves for its contributions to the company’s main daily global monitoring service, which uses nearly 200 satellites in low Earth orbit. SuperDoves are the size of a bread box, while the Pelican and Tanager-1 are the size of a mini fridge.

Source: Port Altele

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