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Space Café WebTalk with Dr. Agnieszka Lukaszczyk: The meteoritic rise of Planet

by Luisa Low

Dr. Agnieszka Lukaszczyk; Picture courtesy of the her

For the 80th edition of Space Café, SpaceWatch.Global Publisher Torsten Kriening caught up with Dr. Agnieszka Lukaszczyk, a Brussels based space policy expert who is a Vice President of Governmental Affairs EMEA at Planet, a global satellite imagery and insights provider.

Well regarded in the space sector, the Polish-American policy expert previously worked for the European Commission, Secure World Foundation, the Space Generation Advisory Council and the European Space Policy Institute.

During this week’s episode, she and Torsten talk what’s next for Planet and its mission to preserve our planet in the wake of climate change and biodiversity loss.

From start-up to public trading – the meteoric rise of Planet Labs

In one of the most talked-about space deals of the year with backing from the likes of Google, BlackRock and Marc Benioff, in July 2021 Planet announced it would be going from start-up to publicly listed company with an equity valuation of almost $3 billion.

Chiefly a data company – with a huge data set captured by the world’s largest imaging fleet of 190 satellites – Planet operates as a subscription-based service. Its satellites can take images as low as 50 centimetres to three metres, providing a breathtakingly clear view of Earth’s topography for its government, agriculture, defence and mapping clients.

Beyond the company’s public listing, Planet has also announced Pelican – a new constellation of very high resolution (VHR) satellites, and Data Fusion – which will merge different data to create a master set.

A company with a mission

The company’s public listing will also require the company to remain “mission-based”, under an obscure scheme designed to encourage companies to work towards a greater purpose and contribute to society meaningfully.

Planet will join the stock exchange market as a so-called ‘PVC’ – a public benefit corporation – where it is legally bound to have a mission.

“It’s very rare. There’s only a few companies in the world that have done that because it’s much more difficult for the company. We will not only be responsible to our shareholders… but also that we adhere to our mission.”

“We cannot just deviate and just focus on simply making money. We look at the big picture – the big picture is this planet, Planet Earth. We want to make sure that it’s sustainable and that we can live ‘happily ever after’ on it.”

“So this has nothing to do with borders, this has nothing to do with personal interests and agendas has to do with our future and our existence.”

Planet also believes it can assist the United Nations to achieve 14 out of 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals through its data.

“We look at where Earth observation can help, you know, be it forest shape, mismanagement, farm to fork, sustainable agriculture, monitoring of coasts and waters, and sustainable fisheries.”

To listen to Dr. Agnieszka Lukaszczyk’s insights into Earth observation and Planet, you can watch the full program here

Luisa Low is a freelance journalist and media adviser from Sydney, Australia. She currently manages Media and Public Relations for the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Engineering.

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