Near Space Labs expands high-altitude Earth imagery to Texas and ramps remote deployment

Near Space Labs expands high-altitude Earth imagery to Texas and ramps remote deployment
The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has had a number of unexpected impacts on global economic activity – most of them negative. But the pandemic has also highlighted the need for alternative solutions to challenges where traditional solutions now prove either too costly, or too difficult to do while maintaining good health and safety practices. Near]Space Labs, a startup focused on providing timely, location-specific, high-resolution Earth imaging from balloons in the stratosphere, is one company that has found its model remarkably well-suited to the conditions that have arisen due to the coronavirus crisis.]Near Space Labs is in the process of expanding its offering to Texas, with some imagery already collected, and the team in active conversations with a number of potential customers about subscribing to its imaging services ahead of launching the first full batch of collected imagery by early next month. Adding a new geographic location in the middle of a pandemic required Near Space Labs to move up the development on a way for it to easily ship and deploy its balloon-lofted imaging equipment using remote instruction with local technical talent. It’s now ready to effectively spin up an imaging operation very quickly, basically anywhere in the world, with simple, minimal training to onboard and equip local operators on-demand.
“With travel restrictions, we had to figure out how to deploy hardware in a fully remote way,” explained Near Space Labs’ CEO Rema Matevosyan. “That had been a challenge that we wanted to tackle at some point, for our scalability – but instead we had to tackle that ASAP. Today, I’m really proud to say that the Swift, our robotic vehicles, are able to be shipped anywhere on the globe in a small suitcase. And with a few videos and a manual, it’s super easy to train new people to launch.”
Swift is basically a sophisticated camera attached to a balloon that flies between 60,000 and 85,000 feet, with short duration flights that can nonetheless capture up to 270 square miles of imagery at 30 cm per pixel resolution in a single pass. Swift is also designed to be able to go up frequently, making trips as frequently as twice per day, and it’s designed to provide quick turnaround times for processed images, compared to long potential waits for imaging from geosynchronous or even LEO satellites based on orbital schedules, ground station transmission times and other factors.

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