Los Angeles Times

A new wave of satellites in orbit: Cheap and tiny, with short lifespans

SAN FRANCISCO - It's one of the most recognizable images in aerospace: Highly specialized workers clad in gowns, hair nets and shoe coverings crawl over a one-of-a-kind satellite the size of a school bus. The months-long process is so delicate that even workers' metal rings must be covered with a translucent tape to prevent static transfer.

Contrast that with how things are done at Planet Labs Inc. in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood. Satellites no bigger than a loaf of bread are propped on work benches, tended by technicians wearing simple rubber gloves and light lab coats. Largely using commercially available tech

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