Capella Space to Begin Commercial Operations in 2020 with the Launch of Seven SAR Satellites

By launching six to twelve satellites per year, the company is hoping to have all of the thirty-six satellites up by the end of 2023. After a series of market researches and tests with prototype satellites, the company concluded that it needed a more massive spacecraft to accommodate a bigger sensor aperture that can provide high-resolution sub-0.5 meter imagery

Fremont, CA: San Francisco-based startup Capella Space is set to launch seven satellites and begin commercial operations in 2020. The space-based radar imagery provider is aiming to launch a total of 36 satellites by the year 2023. The company had deployed one small synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite in December 2018. The new satellites being launched in 2020 are of a new design. The first one, named Sequoia, is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral in March in a polar sun-synchronous orbit on a SpaceX rocket. Followed by which three satellites will be launched on an Indian PSLV rocket scheduled for June, into a polar sun-synchronous orbit. These rockets will be part of the constellation that will be called Whitney.

Following the first four, the company is expected to launch another three by the end of 2020, as launch vehicles are yet to be booked. By launching six to twelve satellites per year, the company is hoping to have all of the thirty-six satellites up by the end of 2023. After a series of market researches and tests with prototype satellites, the company concluded that it needed a more massive spacecraft to accommodate a bigger sensor aperture that can provide high-resolution sub-0.5 meter imagery. Higher resolution imagery is of considerable significance to government and military customers that the company is pursuing apart from the commercial market. Capella has contracts with the U.S. Air Force and recently won a study contract from the National Reconnaissance Office.

At less than 100 kilograms, the new satellite design is heavier than the first 40-kilogram design. “It is still small but deploys to something really big in space,” said Payam Banazadeh, CEO and founder of Capella Space. "Over the last 12 months looking at the competition and talking to customers, we realized we really want to dominate the very high-resolution market. To meet that demand, we need a large aperture, so we changed the size."

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