Google selling its satellite imaging business Terra Bella to Planet Labs

Google announced on Friday that it is selling its satellite imaging business, Terra Bella, to San Francisco-based private satellite operator Planet Labs.

Planet Labs will acquire the Terra Bella business, including its SkySat constellation of satellites and after the deal closes Google will enter into a multi-year contract to purchase Earth-imaging data from Planet Labs.

The acquisition will diversify Planet’s available data and solutions and help the company serve new customers and markets.

San Francisco Bay, captured on December 27, 2016. Image: Terra Bella
San Francisco Bay, captured on December 27, 2016. Image: Terra Bella

Will Marshall, co-founder and CEO of Planet Labs, said that the SkySat constellation of 7 high resolution satellites is highly complementary to Planet’s existing medium resolution 60-satellite fleet.

“The former [7 high resolution satellites] enable regular, rapidly updated snapshots of select areas of the globe at sub-meter resolution; the latter [60-satellite medium resolution fleet] regular, global coverage at 3-5 meter resolution. The two systems under one roof will be truly unique and will enable valuable new capabilities,” Marshall said.

“When we thought about a company that shares Terra Bella’s passion and strengths in high frequency satellite imaging, Planet was a natural home,” said Jen Fitzpatrick, VP of Product and Engineering, Google. “Terra Bella has accomplished a lot in the past two years—including the design and launch of five more satellites. We’re excited to see what’s ahead for Terra Bella, and look forward to being a long-term customer.”

“From the start, Planet and Terra Bella have shared similar visions and approached aerospace technology from a like-minded position, and while our on-orbit assets and data are different, together we bring unique and valuable capabilities to users,” said Terra Bella Co-Founder John Fenwick. “Planet and Terra Bella together enables the continuation of our mission and makes for an ever-stronger business.”

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.