Space Image

Albedo Set Launch Clarity-1; Into Very Low Earth Orbit in Early 2025 on SpaceX Transporter-13

Clarity-1, a phone-booth-size satellite, is designed to capture 10-centimeter visible imagery and two-meter thermal infrared imagery, and is scheduled for launch in February 2025 on SpaceX's Transporter-13, a Falcon 9 rideshare mission.

  • More details coming soon...
Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Wed Jun 12 2024Written by Zac Aubert

Albedo, a Denver-based startup specializing in high-resolution Earth imagery, has unveiled plans to launch its first satellite, Clarity-1, into very low Earth orbit (VLEO) early next year.

Clarity-1, a phone-booth-size satellite, is designed to capture 10-centimeter visible imagery and two-meter thermal infrared imagery, and is scheduled for launch in February 2025 on SpaceX's Transporter-13, a Falcon 9 rideshare mission.

“It’s an operational system...We’ve done a bunch of risk-reduction testing and prototyping on the ground and we’ve done aircraft demos.” - Topher Haddad, Albedo CEO

Albedo's Dream of Revolutionary Satellite Imagery Becomes Reality

When Albedo was founded, the notion of constructing phone-booth-sized satellites that could fly twice as low as traditional Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites and capture imagery at resolutions previously only achievable by drones and planes seemed like a far-off dream. This dream, driven by the right combination of talent, hard work, and fortune, has now transformed into an imminent reality.

Founded in late 2020, Albedo aims to make a significant impact in the Earth-imagery market by providing exceptionally high-resolution visible and thermal imagery from a single platform. The $35 million Series A-1 funding round announced in January has been instrumental in funding the satellite's integration and testing phases.

Much of Clarity-1's capacity for its first two years of operation has already been reserved by customers.

“They pay a cash deposit and sign up for however many images they want,” - Topher Haddad, Albedo CEO

Several companies have reserved portions of Clarity-1’s tasking images for a wide range of applications, including power line vegetation management, commodity trading, mining elevation surveys, gas pipeline monitoring, AI infrastructure, consumer tasking, and defense and intelligence.

Key partners include:

  • AiDash: Enhances climate resilience and sustainability for critical infrastructure industries using satellites and AI, mitigating disaster risks like storms and wildfires.

  • Japan Space Imaging (JSI): Leading provider of satellite imagery in Japan since 1998, partnering to bring Albedo products to the Japanese market.

  • Open Grid Europe (OGE): Germany’s largest gas transmission grid operator, using Albedo’s imagery to complement their aerial monitoring fleet for safety and sustainability.

  • PhotoSat: Uses geospatial solutions for mining and geology, leveraging Albedo’s imagery to improve accuracy and fill drone deployment gaps.

  • ScaleAI: Manages data and model deployment, excited to use Albedo’s high-quality data for products like Damage Identification as a Service.

  • SkyFi: Aims to democratize access to satellite imagery, looking forward to incorporating Albedo’s imagery to broaden usage.

  • Unnamed Hedge Fund: Plans to use Albedo’s high-resolution imagery and low-latency processing for timely global event assessment.

In December, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) announced agreements with Albedo and four other electro-optical imagery providers. Additionally, Albedo secured a contract last year to provide the National Air and Space Intelligence Center with thermal infrared imagery for nighttime applications.

“That’s only a subset of customers who have signed...Even that subset shows the breadth of use cases.” - Topher Haddad, Albedo CEO

Constellation Plans

Albedo’s long-term vision involves deploying a constellation of 24 satellites. However, the exact number of satellites to be launched will depend on market demand.

“Once we get to six to 12 satellites and we’re figuring out the growth path, we’ll determine if we allocate more capital to pumping out more satellites or to investing in different software products or other types of Earth-observation modalities that benefit from flying twice as close to the Earth on an agile, stable platform,” - Topher Haddad, Albedo CEO

Technical Challenges

One of the primary technical challenges Albedo faced was ensuring the stability of the platform.

“The hardest part of what we’re doing is the pointing problem...Being able to take pictures of a lot of different targets in a single orbit pass and getting rid of all the momentum and torque from the atmosphere is already pretty hard with a high-resolution imaging satellite. It’s made harder by taking that satellite and flying it super low.” - Topher Haddad, Albedo CEO

With Clarity set to launch early next year, Albedo is poised to revolutionize the Earth-imagery market, offering unprecedented resolution and diverse applications from a single, innovative platform.