Capella Space to Launch Synthetic Aperture Radar Satellite Constellation in 2020

Capella Space, an information services company providing Earth observation data on demand, has announced that it will launch seven synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites and start commercial operations in 2020. Powering this next step are Capella's breakthrough engineering technology innovations that make it the first small satellite SAR company in the industry to capture truly sub-0.5m very high-resolution (VHR) imagery. 

Capella's ultra-high SAR captures more images per satellite relative to other small SAR satellites and it has an ability to deliver SAR data to customers in less than 30 minutes from the collection with real-time tasking. Capella's technology advances over the past year produce economic benefits that cemented major deals with multiple divisions of the U.S. government, including a contract with the U.S. Air Force. Capella is fully funded to complete its seven satellite constellation launch in 2020, with very significant backing from multi-billion-dollar funds DCVC (Data Collective) and Spark Capital.

Capella embodies DCVC's mission of applying breakthrough technology to transform major industries while also generating impressive returns. Their audacious choice of technology gives them a collection capacity that nobody else can deliver, with unit economics that is five times better than the status quo. 

Setting a new technological standard for the industry, Capella's first wave of operational satellites will feature sub-0.5 meter VHR to capture images of unparalleled quality. The new constellation of satellites will also achieve impressive energy efficiency that enables imaging for up to 10 minutes per orbit, marking a fivefold increase over other small satellite competitors. Combined, the advances mean Capella can deliver higher-quality images in less time than competitors.

Over the past year, Capella also entered into industry-leading agreements with Inmarsat, Addvalue and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to task satellites in real-time and rapidly deliver frequent, timely and flexible SAR data via the AWS Ground Station network. As a result, Capella is the first and only Earth observation company that can accept and task its satellites in real-time, making it virtually latency-free. The company will accept and task its constellation in real-time and deliver imagery to customers within on-average 30 minutes of collection. As the industry average from order to delivery is typically eight hours and can be as long as several days, Capella outperforms rivals with speeds that are more than 16 times faster.

Government and commercial markets increasingly demand this type of real-time Earth observation data. This demand, and Capella's superior technology, have driven multi-million dollar contracts with eight customers in 2019, including federal government customer wins announced- U.S. Air Force and National Reconnaissance Office- and multiple others across key use cases:

  • Defense & Intelligence: Persistent monitoring of specific sites and Areas of Interest (AOIs), differentiation between service vs. military vehicles and aircraft types
  • Insurance: Independent verification of damage claims from flooding, fire, and hurricanes
  • Disaster Management: Identification of survivors and rescue and relief operations
  • Energy, Oil & Gas: Detection of oil spills, digital elevation mapping, and security monitoring
  • Urban Development/Infrastructure: Monitoring and measuring structural integrity and safety at millimeter levels for dams, bridges, buildings, and railways
  • Maritime: Identification and tracking of vessels, illegal shipments and oil spill monitoring

DCVC is a leading investor in the pre-eminent commercial space companies because it has a deep understanding of the technology and operational know-how that is required to build a successful business in space. Through its capital efficiency and unique technological advantage, Capella Space is delivering unprecedented on-demand images of the Earth to customers across industries, including the U.S. Federal Government, which has shown extraordinary enthusiasm and support for the vital – and commercially unparalleled – intelligence Capella provides.

Featured News