A $50 million senior secured loan from Intelsat (NYSE: I) has certainly enhanced BlackSky and has created a strategic relationship that pairs Earth Observation (EO) with a global comms infrastructure.
With an established manufacturing capability, mission operations center and sales channels in place, BlackSky is in the process of expanding their constellation of smallsats to deliver the highest revisit rate in the industry. The company is also fusing AI/ML-powered computer vision, high revisit rate imagery from orbital assets and open-source intelligence to provide customers with comprehensive insights about the global locations of interest to them.
BlackSky currently has four, 1 meter smallsats on-orbit with another four slated for launch in early 2020 — the firm plans to have 16 satellites in their constellation by early 2021.
Brian E. O’Toole, President and CEO of BlackSky, stated that the company is enabling an entirely new level of global intelligence by leveraging the economics of small satellites in order for customers to always be the first to know… it takes a lot of expertise, engineering and capital to make smallsats viable; BlackSky is the first company to overcome these challenges with proven economies of scale. This latest partnership is a vote of confidence in BlackSky’s ability to deliver industry leading insights to our customers from one of the biggest players in the market.
Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler added that BlackSky is well positioned to be a significant player in the expanding Earth Observation sector, which Intelsat believes benefits from accelerating trends that include cloud computing, change detection, predictive analytics and machine learning. The company believes a significant number of commercial and government sector customers will increasingly rely on geospatial intelligence. This investment will be used to fund enhancements to the current BlackSky infrastructure and will serve as a springboard for a commercial alliance with Intelsat and the company’s Intelsat General government subsidiary.
For this transaction, Evercore acted as a financial advisor to BlackSky and PJT Partners acted as financial advisor to Intelsat.