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After its IPO, BlackSky will boldly venture into new markets

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Black Sky Executives at NYSE
BlackSky CEO Brian OToole (center) and other company executives celebrate the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange. (Photo of dark sky)

As a private company, Black sky has made a name for itself providing satellite imagery and data analysis primarily for military and government customers. But now that it’s an independent, publicly-traded company, the satellite subsidiary that started out in Seattle is aiming higher.

This is an exciting result for the company, said BlackSky CEO Brian OToole, who rang the New York Stock Exchange opening bell today. This will bring in over $ 280 million in capital to fund our growth plan. Were in the early stages here of an exciting new space segment.

Following BlackSkys’ business combination with Osprey Technology Acquisition Corp., which had been in the works for months and took full effect last week, the company’s shares are traded on the NYSE under the ticker symbol. BKSY.

This is the latest in a series of space-related deals involving Special Purpose Acquisition Companies, or PSPCs. (Other notable space-SPAC deals have involved Virgin Galactic, Astra, and Rocket lab), It is also the latest chapter of a business that started in 2013 as a subsidiary of Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries, and broke on its own last year after the other subsidiary of the parent company, Spaceflight Inc., was acquired by a Japanese joint venture.

BlackSkys’ holdings include a constellation of Earth observation satellites and a half stake (with Thales Alenia Space) in LeoStella, a satellite manufacturing company based in Tukwila, Washington. But OToole likes to say that BlackSky isn’t just a satellite company:

It’s not satellite imagery, he told GeekWire in an interview last week. It’s really about real-time global intelligence and enabling access to our capabilities and data for a whole new group of customers who have never had this before.

For years, BlackSky has provided real-time geospatial intelligence to government and military customers through its AI-powered Spectra software platform. Last month the company won a contract amendment to provide the National Reconnaissance Bureau with a monthly subscription satellite imagery on demand.

OToole said the capital released through the Osprey SPAC deal will allow Spectra services to be offered to a wider range of markets.

We have had an incredible amount of interest coming in from the commercial sector, he said. In the second quarter, more than 30 different companies contacted us. These range from global construction companies to global energy companies to insurance operators. This continues indefinitely, there is just a pent-up demand for easy access to this kind of data.

OToole said the new injection of SPAC funding will go to expanding BlackSkys’ sales force, improving the Spectra platform and strengthening the BlackSky Global constellation, which currently has seven satellites in Earth orbit. low.

Spectra is already accelerating the pace of satellite intelligence collection. We were seeing that we can get customers to our platform very quickly, within a day, he said. And then they are able to charge our satellites and get data in less than 90 minutes.

Brian O'Toole
Brian OToole is the CEO of BlackSky, which has offices in Seattle and Herndon, Va. (BlackSky Photo)

After overcoming a launch issue that resulted in the loss of two satellites in May, Rocket Lab is expected to launch up to six more BlackSkys satellites by the end of the year. This will bring the fleet to more than a dozen spacecraft, noted OToole.

This is a very important step for us, as it allows us to offer revisit performance about once an hour throughout the day, he explained.

In just a few years, the constellation is expected to reach its full complement of 30 satellites, including third-generation spacecraft that will be equipped with higher-resolution cameras and short-wave infrared night vision. And OToole promises upgrades will continue.

Although BlackSkys’ center of gravity has shifted from Seattle to Herndon, Virginia over the years, OToole says the new public company will maintain a strong commercial presence in the Pacific Northwest. More than 50 of the company’s more than 200 employees are based in Seattle.

Even after this merger, we still have a 50% stake in LeoStella, in Tukwila, and they are building our satellites and will continue to do so. This transaction also helps them and gives them clear visibility into orders from us from this facility, OToole said. So, yes, I see Seattle remaining for a long time the source of the space expertise that we have in the business.

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