Space startup Planetary Resources is killing its nascent Earth observation system, Ceres, opting to focus on its core mission of asteroid mining.
Planetary Resources announced its the project in May 2016, saying that it would spend $21.1 million to equip 10 Arkyd satellites with sensors to observe the Earth’s surface. The company hoped to use the network to monitor water quality, locate new mineral sources, or find other uses that weren’t easily served by existing satellite services. However, the company never laid out a timeline for when the system would become operational.
The company made little mention of the project since its announcement, according to SpaceNews, and after a presentation at NASA’s Small Bodies Assessment Group earlier this week, Planetary Resources president and CEO Chris Lewicki explained that the Earth monitoring system was simply a lower priority than their other missions.
During the meeting, Lewicki explained that the company is planning on launching its Arkyd-6 satellite in October, which will be used to test out systems that will eventually be used on their asteroid exploration satellites. He also said that the company is planning to launch its first asteroid prospecting spacecraft in the second half of 2020.