Blue Sea, a company with deep-sea satellite ambitions, announced on Tuesday it has shut down its operation and said it will be “no longer operating as a satellite service provider”.
Blue Sea’s death is a huge blow to the US space industry.
Its satellite company, Blue Sky, had been planning to launch Blue Sea into space, using a Falcon 9 rocket, but those plans were scrapped due to financial problems.
“We are deeply saddened to have to inform you that Blue Sea has ceased operations as a provider of deep ocean mapping services,” Blue Sea said in a statement.
“In the future, Blue Sea will be working with partners to establish a new satellite constellation.”
Blue Sea did not respond to requests for comment.
It was founded in 2014, after a former US government scientist, Scott McEwen, left the company after his contract with the US Geological Survey expired.
Mr McEwens team had built software for mapping the seafloor, using the Earth’s magnetic field and satellite data.
The satellite, called Blue Sea Explorer, would have been able to survey an area the size of California and then pinpoint a point on the ocean floor.
Blue Sea had been using the satellites for mapping before it was acquired by SpaceX.
The company was also working on a polar orbit satellite, which would have used a similar approach to Blue Sea.
BlueSea was formed as a spin-off from Blue Sky in 2015, and had hoped to use the Blue Sky technology for mapping deep-ocean environments.
Blue Sky said in its statement that the company “has made significant progress with the development of Blue Sea”.
It said it was “working with partners” to create a new constellation of deep-water satellites.
“Blue Sea has been working closely with Blue Sky on the development and launch of new deep ocean satellites,” it said.
“Our current plans are to launch a new Deep Ocean Explorer satellite in 2021.”
Mr McEllen said Blue Sea could have done more to help the US government by using the company’s satellite software.
“I can’t believe it is going away, it’s a shame,” he said.
Blue Sea also had a contract with NASA for mapping Arctic polar ice, but that contract was cancelled after a series of issues with data collection.
Blue Sky also launched its own polar orbit satellites, Blue Planet, but the company said those satellites had been cancelled by SpaceX after a technical failure.