SkyWatch Expands Earth Observation Options With Stratospheric Balloon Imagery Partnership

10cm Very High Resolution Stratospheric Imagery from Urban Sky. Image credit: Urban Sky.

Space data technology company SkyWatch has a new partnership for high-resolution data of Earth – and it’s not involving satellites.

The Kitchener-based company paired up with Urban Sky, an aerial imaging provider, to offer high-resolution images of certain cities using stratospheric balloon imagery. From tens of thousands of meters high in the atmosphere, Urban Sky provides resolution of up to 10 cm for applications that may be useful for architecture, mining, construction, engineering, energy or utilities.

SkyWatch did not respond to a request for comment by SpaceQ about the partnership, which will activate quarterly imagery in April 2024 over “key metro areas” including Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Lubbock, Amarillo, Denver, Phoenix, Mesa, Tucson, Fresno, Las Vegas, and Reno. (Archives from Urban Sky are also available on SkyWatch right now.)

The companies describe this dataset as both low-cost and high resolution, allowing for rapid response even when managing the aftermath of disasters or climate change events.

“This partnership enables our customers – and the market as a whole – to integrate novel datasets outside of satellite imagery into their business processes and solutions,” David Proulx, chief product officer at SkyWatch, said in a statement. “We’re honored to be selected a premier partner by Urban Sky, and we’re thrilled that we can now offer best-in-class, stratospheric imagery to our customers.”

The platform offered by SkyWatch “is an easy-to-use, feature-rich system that offers Urban Sky unprecedented access to a new and diverse set of imagery customers,” added Andrew Antonio, co-founder and CEO at Urban Sky, in the same statement. “We’re excited to grow together as we jointly look to democratize access to more and better remote sensing data than ever before.”

SkyWatch has been busy expanding its high-resolution imagery in recent months. For example: September 2023 saw a partnership with the United Kingdom’s SatelliteVu, specializing in infrared satellite imagery for applications ranging from climate to defence purposes. Satellogic Inc., which has several worldwide offices, joined SkyWatch’s archive that same month, with the eventual aim of creating “daily global remaps.” And synthetic aperture radar was also added in August 2023 via Toronto’s Umbra.

SkyWatch’s latest funding round in June 2021 was a $17.2M USD Series B round of financing led by Drive Capital, and also including existing investors Bullpen Capital, Space Capital, Golden Ventures, and BDC Ventures. At the time, SkyWatch said the financing would build on the success of their first TerraStream-enabled satellite (launched earlier that month) as well as 40 other satellites under contract for launch by various companies, including SatRevolution (Poland), SpaceJLTZ (Mexico), and Wyvern (Canada).

Another notable contract recently was the Canadian Space Agency’s selection of SkyWatch for Phase 2 of the Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Analytics for Advanced Autonomous Space Systems challenge. In May last year, SkyWatch said it aims to create a system that can apply machine learning (artificial intelligence) and big data analytics to Earth observation missions, allowing for more streamlined flow of data to Earth to speed up decision-making based on satellite imagery.

“SkyWatch’s mandate for Phase 2 is to further advance CSA operations in the areas of mission planning, mission integration with autonomous data management and compliance, distribution controls for large enterprises and governments, and machine learning,” company officials stated at the time.

About Elizabeth Howell

Is SpaceQ's Associate Editor as well as a business and science reporter, researcher and consultant. She recently received her Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota and is communications Instructor instructor at Algonquin College.

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