Bill Gates Backs $1bn Plan To Cover Earth In Video Surveillance Satellite
A satellite company planning to launch a $1bn (£700m) network of satellites to provide “live and unfiltered” coverage of the Earth has been backed by former Microsoft chief executive Bill Gates and Japanese tech giant Softbank.
The tech leaders are backing EarthNow, which plans to launch 500 satellites to cover Earth’s atmosphere in video surveillance and provide live video feedback with only one second of delay.
The Washington-based satellite company has the backing of aerospace giant Airbus as well as billionaire Gates and Softbank, the Japanese conglomerate that has invested billions in tech companies from Uber to chipmaker Arm.
EarthNow founder Russel Hannigan said: “Our objective is simple; we want to connect you visually with Earth in real-time.”
Hannigan told the Wall Street Journal the price of the project could run to $1bn, although the companies did not disclose the value of the investment. Hannigan said the first funding would cover the planning stage of the project.
Softbank has invested heavily in space and satellite companies under enigmatic chief executive Masayoshi Son. t has previously invested in satellite start-up OneWeb for $1bn, whose founder Greg Wyler added his backing to the start-up.
Some of the applications will include services for government and commercial customers, as well as tracking illegal fishing, watching weather systems or tracking natural migrations. EarthNow said it would also enable live feed of the earth to be viewable from a smartphone or tablet.
“We believe the ability to see and understand the Earth live and unfiltered will help all of us better appreciate and ultimately care for our one and only home,” Hannigan said.
EarthNow is just the latest start-up to benefit from a wave of funding in space technologies. In 2017, there were 67 equity fundings in space start-ups to the tune of $2.9bn. Most recently, US rocket company SpaceX is reportedly raising $500m from investors.
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