Space and analytics firm Planet Labs has secured US$52 million in new funding, bringing it to within touching distance of launching a fleet of Earth imaging satellites in early 2014. The new investment brings the company’s total raised to over $65 million, and will help in its aim to generate imagery of and data about Earth, which will be openly accessible for both commercial and humanitarian purposes.

Planet Labs was founded in 2010 and has a staff of engineers, scientists and developers, many of whom have worked previously at SpaceX, Space Systems Loral, NASA and Google. The organization's stated aim is “to provide universal access to information about the changing planet.”

Last month saw the successful launch of two test satellites or "Doves" – the third and fourth since April. The test launches are a precursor to Flock 1, a fleet of 28 further satellites that, along with Doves 1-4, will be the largest group of Earth imaging satellites in orbit.

Whilst the Doves are smaller and orbit at a lower altitude than other satellites, helping to reduce costs, Planet Labs claims that it is capturing a much higher frequency and quality of imagery than has otherwise been possible. The company website says, “By giving people a view of the Earth in near real-time, we intend to spur people, companies, and governments to action.”

This recent round of series B funding for the San Francisco-based firm included new investors Yuri Milner, Industry Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Lux Capital, and Ray Rothrock. Existing investors include DFJ, Capricorn, O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures (OATV), Founders Fund, First Round Capital, Innovation Endeavors, Data Collective, and AME Cloud Ventures.

Source: Planet Labs

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