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August 6, 2020

Earth Observant Wins U.S. Air Force Contract for Development of a Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO)

Earth Observant awarded contract for development of a Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO) optical payload with edge computing architecture that delivers ultra-high resolution satellite imagery in near-real time.

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Earth Observant Inc. (EOI) received this award under the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program and is working with AFWERX, the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). Selected from a competitive line-up of start-up companies, EOI is eager to apply the SBIR award toward advancing its vision for a VLEO satellite imaging platform.

To achieve near-real time transmission of satellite optical imagery, EOI is analyzing and reworking the entire imagery chain, from tasking to image distribution. A new architecture will move the bulk of the image processing from ground systems onto the spacecraft using edge computing capability. By conducting a larger share of the processing onboard the spacecraft, EOI will be able to provide more data directly to the user via its Ka-band high bandwidth transmitter. Decreasing the time between data collection and delivery will make actionable information accessible faster than ever before.

The Air Force contract gives EOI the opportunity to further develop payload, edge computing, and communication prototypes to validate its ground-breaking plan. The company says that “more timely intelligence will provide a marked improvement in information dissemination and response times, which is key for a range of applications, such as environmental and disaster assessment and response, asset monitoring, public safety and homeland security.”

“Defense and Intel is particularly interested in the advantages of EOI’s low-flying bus,” says Christopher Thein, CEO of Earth Observant Inc. “At a lower altitude, we can collect very-high resolution satellite imagery with a smaller spacecraft, and onboard image processing allows for reduced data latency to provide updates about rapidly changing conditions on the ground.”