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Google selling Skybox Imaging?

January 11, 2017

By Chris Forrester

Back in 2014 Google’s parent company, Alphabet, bought Skybox Imaging for a reported $500 million (473.5m). It renamed the enterprise Terra Bella. Bloomberg is reporting that the business is now up for sale.

Terra Bella, based in Mountain View, California, specialises in extremely high-resolution Earth observation images. Founded in 2009, the business uses 1080p satellite video from the high-performance SkySat (Satellite Imaging Corp) craft which orbit just 450 kms up in polar orbits above the Earth.

Bloomberg says that a leading contender to acquire Terra Bella is Planet Labs, a San Francisco-based company that operates a constellation of small Earth imaging cubesats. A deal to sell Terra Bella to Planet could include Google taking an equity stake in Planet.

Terra Bella has been developing a fleet of so-called ‘smallsats’ that take higher resolution images than Planet’s cubesats, but less frequently. Terra Bella has seven satellites in orbit, including four launched on a Vega rocket last September.

In June 2014 when Google made the purchase it said part of the rationale was improving its own ‘Google Maps’ application.

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