It is often said that if everyone had the opportunity to see Earth from the perspective of astronauts in space, respect and admiration for our planet would grow and the environment would be better protected. A new fleet of 28 small satellites, called Flock 1, may help provide this perspective to people like never before. Considered the largest single constellation of Earth-imaging satellites ever to launch into space, the Flock 1 satellites began deploying today from the International Space Station.
For years now, the team at San Francisco–based space startup Planet Labs has been planning to send a flock of 28 shoebox-sized satellites into space. They finally took flight last month, when the Antares rocket delivered them to the International Space Station. The final leg of the satellites’ journey to space began early this morning, when the crew aboard the ISS released the first two into orbit. Two to four will be released each day. “The team has been saying for almost three years that we were going to launch a constellation of satellites,” CTO Chris Boshuizen said in an interview. “That’s been an abstract concept. Being able to see those finally go to space and have the time to watch [the Antares launch], it gave everyone an appreciation of how hard we worked. There’s not a single person here who doesn’t appreciate how real that dream has become.”