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Capella Space X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar

Sep 30, 2023

EO

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Land

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Multi-purpose imagery (land)

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Land surface imagery

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Capella Space is a space technology company with data and satellite solutions for government and commercial use. Capella’s SAR satellites provide access to information to a number of industries worldwide, including defense and intelligence, supply chain, insurance, maritime and others.

Quick facts

Overview

Mission typeEO
AgencyCapella Space
Mission statusOperational (nominal)
Launch date03 Dec 2018
End of life date31 Dec 2027
Measurement domainLand
Measurement categoryMulti-purpose imagery (land)
Measurement detailedLand surface imagery
InstrumentsCapella X-SAR
Instrument typeImaging microwave radars
CEOS EO HandbookSee Capella Space X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar summary

Capella Acadia SAR Satellite (Image credit: Capella Space)


 

Summary

About Capella Space

Capella Space is a space technology company with data and satellite solutions for government and commercial use, delivering commercial SAR imagery. Capella provides access to information affecting industries worldwide, including defense and intelligence, supply chain, insurance, maritime and others. Its SAR satellites deliver global insights into commerce, conservation, and security on Earth. Capella is headquartered in San Francisco, California with additional locations in Denver, Colorado and Washington, D.C.

 

Objectives and Applications

Capella Space is a space tech company with data and satellite solutions for government and commercial use. Capella delivers the best quality, highest resolution SAR imagery commercially available. Capella provides easy access to frequent and timely information affecting dozens of industries worldwide, including defense and intelligence, supply chain, insurance, maritime and others. Its market-leading SAR satellites are matched with unparalleled data infrastructure to quickly deliver reliable global insights that sharpen our understanding of the changing world.

 

Mission Capabilities

Each Capella Space satellite features an X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instrument, which operates with a bandwidth from 500 MHz up to 700MHz. This single-polarized instrument allows for imaging in various modes including spotlight, stripmap, and sliding spotlight. In certain modes the user can select the image size and is able to trade resolution for image quality, which enables a variety of uses including monitoring military threats, observing glacial meltwater dynamics, coordinating disaster response, detecting vessels at sea and persistent global change monitoring.

 

Performance Specifications

Spotlight mode provides high resolution imaging at 0.25 meter azimuth resolution for a swath of 5 x 5 km. The sliding-spotlight mode produces an image at 0.5 meter azimuth resolution at a scene length up to 10 km. Stripmap mode produces imagery at 1.2 meter azimuth resolution up to 100 km x 10 km.

Capella’s satellites operate in a variety of orbits at 45-degree mid-inclination (525 km altitude), 53-degree mid-inclination (575 km altitude), and 97-degree sun-synchronous orbit (525 km altitude). They have a period of 90 minutes which provides a revisit time of 2-5 hours with eight satellites.

 

Space and Hardware Components

The Capella's second-generation Whitney-class satellites have a mass of 110 kg and third-generation Acadia-class satellites have a mass less than 197 kg. With each launch of new satellites, Capella makes improvements to the instruments and radar system performance, such as the inclusion of polarimetric measurements in the next development. Once deployed, the small satellites unfold an antenna spanning approximately 8 square meters.

Capella Platform

Capella’s automated platform provides customers with direct access to task Capella satellites and collect imagery, making the Capella user experience as simple and straightforward as possible. Users can login to Console, define their area of interest, and search the existing catalog or submit a new acquisition tasking request. Once a new acquisition is collected, automatically processed, and delivered, customers receive an alert so they can login and access the SAR imagery in a timely manner.  

 

Capella X-SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) Constellation

Sensor Complement   Capella Spacecraft    Capella Launches    Mission Status     References

 

Capella Space is a U.S. satellite manufacturer and Earth observation company and the first American company to bring commercial SAR data to the broader market. Founded in 2016, Capella Space’s Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites enable the company to deliver the highest quality, high resolution SAR • imagery commercially available with the fastest order-to-delivery time, empowering organizations across the public and private sector to make informed, accurate decisions.  


The Capella constellation will grow to 9 small satellites by the end of 2023. The constellation launched in 2018 with the initial deployment of one satellite. The radars are single polarization X-band systems, capable of operating at 500 - 700 MHz bandwidth in stripmap, spotlight, and sliding spotlight imaging modes.

Figure 1: Chart illustrating global revisit rates from the full constellation (image credit: Capella Space)

Figure 1: Charts illustrating global revisit rates and collects per day from the full constellation (image credit: Capella Space)

 

Each Capella satellite has a three-year design life. By launching 12 satellites per year, the constellation will maintain its imaging capability indefinitely. With the ability to continually update and refresh the satellite technology, Capella will be able implement improvements to the constellation and radar performance quarterly.

Parameter

2018

2020

2021

20222023

Number of satellites launched

1

1

4

       2                 5+       

Use

 Internal demonstration 

 Operational 

 Operational 

 Operational  Operational 

Total number of satellites

1

1

5

7  5+

Number of orbital planes

xx

1

3

33

Maximum revisit

weekly

3-6 hours

2-4 hours

1-3 hours1-2 hours
Table 1: Capella constellation timeline and capability

 


 

Sensor Complement (SAR)

Capella SAR satellites operate at X-band with a bandwidth of up to 700 MHz. Ground resolution and swath width vary with look angle (Figure 2), but users will be able to select a combination of transmit bandwidth and PRF to meet their imaging requirements. The first Capella radars will operate with a single polarization. Improvement in radar system performance, such as polarimetric measurements, are planned for future generations of Capella satellites.

The system specifications for Capella’s satellites are listed in Table​​ 2.

Frequency band

X-band (9.4 – 9.9 GHz)

Polarization

Single-polarization (HH or VV)

Orbit, orbital period, inclination

Polar & MIO, ~90 minutes, 97º, 53º & 45º

Altitude at the equator

485 – 525 km

Imaging modes

Stripmap, spotlight, sliding spotlight

Table 2: Capella system specifications
Figure 2: Ground range resolution plotted as a function of transmit bandwidth and look angle (image credit: Capella Space)
Figure 2: Ground range resolution plotted as a function of transmit bandwidth and look angle (image credit: Capella Space)

 

Radar Imaging Modes

The Capella satellites will be capable of imaging in several modes, including spotlight, sliding spotlight, and traditional stripmap. These modes are described below. Note that for most modes, the user can select the image size, and is able to trade resolution for imaging quality.

Spotlight: Capella satellites are capable of spotlight imaging, in which the beam is focused on a single point on the Earth throughout the acquisition. In this mode, azimuth resolution is limited by the duration of antenna beam on the target. US regulations control the resolution at which Capella can sell imagery. These multi-looked images are acquired using a dwell time that results in a finer azimuth resolution than 0.25 m. The raw SAR data is processed to full resolution, and then pixels in the amplitude-only image are averaged (multi-looked) to produce high-resolution, speckle-free imagery that Capella is legally permitted to sell.
Multi-looking reduces speckle and increases detectability of objects in a SAR image. However, with many SAR systems, multi-looking comes at the cost of coarser azimuth resolution. Because Capella spacecraft can stare at a point on the ground for tens of seconds, Capella can provide multi-looked images constructed from tens of looks at very high final resolution, e.g., 0.3 m.

An example of the improvement in image quality achieved through multi-looked staring-spotlight has been simulated using airborne circular data. Simulated Capella multi-looked staring spotlight images are shown in Figure 3 (rows 2 through 5). Simulated single-look staring-spotlight acquisition images are shown in Figure 3 (row 1). The scene contains a road, cars in a parking lot, and several corner reflectors. NESZ values of typical large SAR systems such as TerraSAR-X are chosen to simulate the non-Capella radar simulated images. The simulations highlight contrast recovered in a SAR image by multi-looked staring-spotlight data processing, even when the NESZ is relatively poor (right-most column, rows 3, 4, and 5 in Figure 3. For example, the road emerges clearly in the 10-, 20-, and 30-look Capella images, but is hard to distinguish in the non-Capella radar single-look image despite that system having a lower NESZ. Note that in each column, multi-looking does not degrade resolution.

Capella satellites will also be able to acquire multiple staring spotlight images adjacent to each other. Each acquisition will have a shorter dwell time than the maximum dwell time possible with a single-spot staring spotlight acquisition, so either the resolution of each spot will be degraded as the number of spots increases, or the number of looks available for multi-looking will decrease as the number of spots increases. This mode is useful for extending the width (swath) of an area being imaged. For imaging a larger area in the along-track direction, i.e., increasing the length of a spotlight acquisition, sliding spotlight (see below) is more efficient. Maximum image sizes for 0.3 m and 1 m azimuth resolutions and associated number of looks for staring spotlight and multi-spot spotlight are shown in Table 3.

Maximum Image Size (km x km)

Azimuth Resolution (m)

Number of Looks

5 x 20, 10 x 10

0.3

10

5 x 20, 10 x 10

0.3

20

5 x 10

0.3

30

5 x 30, 15 x 10

1.0

10

5 x 20, 10 x 10

1.0

20

5 x 20, 10 x 10

1.0

30

Table 3: Spotlight and multi-spot spotlight image sizes, resolutions, and looks

Sliding Spotlight: This mode is a standard Synthetic Aperture Radar imaging mode. The swath is limited by a combination of the look angle, the radar beamwidth, and the Pulse Repetition Frequency (PRF) selected for the acquisition. The PRF is selected to either provide maximum swath with reduced azimuth ambiguity sidelobe ratio performance, or reduced swath with better azimuth ambiguity sidelobe ratio performance. The minimum slant range resolution is 0.3 m.
Capella satellites capture a wide-swath SAR image in a single horizon-to-horizon pass by collecting multiple sequential stripmap swaths adjacent in the range direction. The number of sequential stripmap swaths is limited by the length of the final wide-swath image and spacecraft slewing times. Stripmap image sizes are listed in Table 5.

Image Length (km)

Best Theoretical Azimuth Resolution (m)

10

0.018

20

0.034

30

0.049

40

0.065

50

0.080

60

0.095

70

0.109

80

0.124

90

0.137

100

0.151

125

0.184

150

0.215

175

0.243

200

0.274

Table 4: Sliding spotlight scene sizes at 30 degree look angle
Figure 3: Simulated results for a typical large SAR (row 1) and Capella SAR (rows 2 through 5) showing the tradeoff between multi-looking, ground-range resolution, and NESZ for a spotlight image acquisition. Multi-looked staring spotlight acquisitions with Capella SAR recover contrast in the image without degrading resolution (image credit: Capella Space)
Figure 3: Simulated results for a typical large SAR (row 1) and Capella SAR (rows 2 through 5) showing the tradeoff between multi-looking, ground-range resolution, and NESZ for a spotlight image acquisition. Multi-looked staring spotlight acquisitions with Capella SAR recover contrast in the image without degrading resolution (image credit: Capella Space)

Stripmap and Multi-swath Stripmap: This mode is a standard synthetic aperture radar stripmap imaging mode. The swath is limited by a combination of the look angle, the radar beamwidth, and the PRF (Pulse Repetition Frequency) selected for the acquisition. The PRF is selected to either provide maximum swath with reduced azimuth ambiguity sidelobe ratio performance, or reduced swath with better azimuth ambiguity sidelobe ratio performance. The minimum slant range resolution is 0.3 m.

Capella satellites will capture a single wide-swath SAR image in a single horizon-to-horizon pass by collecting multiple sequential stripmap swaths adjacent in the range direction. The number of sequential stripmap swaths is limited by the length of the final wide-swath image and spacecraft slewing times. Stripmap and multi-swath stripmap image sizes are listed in Table 5.

Image Length (km)

Image Width (km)

10-30

50

40

40

50-140

30

150-780

20

790-2100

10

Table 5: Maximum stripmap scene sizes with a look angle of 30 degrees

With six satellites in two planes, repeat-pass (repeat-track) interferometric measurements are possible according to timeseries 0 in Table 6 (i.e., collections at hours 0, 54, 120, 174, ...). In addition, a different timeseries of repeat-pass interferometric collections made at a different look angle, but of the same area on the ground, is possible 12 hours later, i.e., at timeseries 1 in Table 6 (hours 12, 66, 132, 186, ...). Notice that the timeseries sequence repeats after 10 time-series, or 120 hours (5 days), i.e., time-series 10 in Table 6 is timeseries 0 at 120 hours. A single timeseries is suitable for observing processes that change over time scales of five or more days.

Time Series Number

Hours from Start of the Sequence

0

0

54

120

174

1

12

66

132

186

2

24

78

144

198

...

...

...

...

...

9

108

162

228

282

10

120

174

240

294

Table 6: Repeat-pass interferometric time series

 


Capella Spacecraft

Capella Space launched its first satellite on a SpaceX rocket in the fall of 2018, an important milestone in the company’s plan to build a constellation of the world’s smallest commercial radar satellites. When in orbit, the Capella satellites unfurl antennas made of a flexible material. Once deployed the satellite’s antennas span 8 m2 once unfurled.

Figure 4: Capella graphic showing the size of its SAR satellites (image credit: Capella Space)
Figure 4: Capella graphic showing the size of its SAR satellites (image credit: Capella Space)

 

Capella Launches

Launch 1: The Capella-1 demonstration spacecraft (nicknamed Denali), a small satellite of 37 kg, was launched on the SSO-A rideshare mission on 3 December 2018 (18:34:05 GMT) on a SpaceX Falcon-9 Block 5 vehicle from VAFB (Vandenberg Air Force Base) in California. 11) 12) 13)

Orbit: Sun-synchronous circular orbit with an altitude of 575 km, inclination of ~98º, LTDN (Local Time of Descending Node) of 10:30 hours.

Figure 5: Artist's rendition of the deployed Capella small satellite. The spacecraft is using an origami-like antenna that unfolds to 8 m2 (image credit: Capella Space)
Figure 5: Artist's rendition of the deployed Capella small satellite. The spacecraft is using an origami-like antenna that unfolds to 8 m2 (image credit: Capella Space) 10)

• SpaceX statement on December 3, 2018: SpaceX successfully launched Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express to a low Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Carrying 64 payloads, this mission represented the largest single rideshare mission from a U.S.-based launch vehicle to date. A series of six deployments occurred approximately 13 to 43 minutes after liftoff, after which Spaceflight began to command its own deployment sequences. Spaceflight’s deployments are expected to occur over a period of six hours. 14)

- This mission also served as the first time SpaceX launched the same booster a third time. Falcon 9’s first stage for the Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express mission previously supported the Bangabandhu Satellite-1 mission in May 2018 and the Merah Putih mission in August 2018. Following stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship, which was stationed in the Pacific Ocean.

• Capella Space statement on December 3, 2018: Capella Space announced today the launch of its first small synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite. The satellite, named "Denali" after the tallest mountain in the U.S., will allow Capella to fine-tune their technology and operations as they progress toward reliably delivering hourly information and imagery in any condition anywhere on Earth. This launch marks a pivotal moment for American innovation, as Capella is the first and only U.S. company to develop and launch a radar satellite for commercial markets. 15)

 


 

Payloads on the Spaceflight SSO-A Rideshare Mission

The layout of the list follows the alphabetical order of missions as presented on the Wikipedia page ”2018 in spaceflight” — as well as with the help of Gunter Krebs's short descriptions.

This mission enabled 34 organizations from 17 different countries to place spacecraft on orbit. It’s also special because it was completely dedicated to smallsats. Spaceflight launched 15 microsatellite and 49 CubeSats from government and commercial entities including universities, startups, and even a middle school. The payloads vary from technology demonstrations and imaging satellites to educational research endeavors.

• AISTechSat-2, a 6U CubeSat for Earth observation of AISTech (Access to Intelligent Space Technologies), Barcelona, Spain.

• Al Farabi-2, a 3U CubeSat technology demonstration mission of the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Kazakhstan.

• Astrocast-0.1, a 3U CubeSat technology demonstration mission of Astrocast, Switzerland, dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT)

• Audacy-0, a 3U CubeSat technology demonstration mission of Audacy, Mountain View, CA, built by Clyde Space.

• BlackSky-2, a microsatellite (55 kg) of BlackSky Global (Seattle, WA) which will provide 1 m resolution imagery with improved geolocation accuracy.

• BRIO, a 3U CubeSat of SpaceQuest Ltd. of Fairfax, VA to test a novel communications protocol that uses SDR (Software Defined Radio).

• Capella-1, a microsatellite (37 kg) of Capella Space, San Francisco, CA featuring a X-band SAR (Synthetic Aperture) payload.

• Centauri-1, a 3U CubeSat of Fleet Space Technologies, Adelaide, South Australia. Demonstration of IoT technologies.

• CSIM-FD (Compact Spectral Irradiance Monitor-Flight Demonstration), a 6U CubeSat of LASP (Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics) at the University of Boulder, CO, USA. The goal is to measure solar spectral irradiance to understand how solar variability impacts the Earth’s climate and to validate climate model sensitivity to spectrally varying solar forcing.

• Eaglet-1, the first 3U CubeSat (5 kg) of OHB Italia SpA for Earth Observation.

• Elysium Star-2, a 1U CubeSat of Elysium Space providing space burial services.

• ESEO (European Student Earth Orbiter) sponsored by ESA, a microsatellite of ~40 kg with 6 instruments aboard.

• Eu:CROPIS (Euglena and Combined Regenerative Organic-Food Production in Space), a minisatellite (230 kg) of DLR, Germany. The objective is to study food production in space in support of future long-duration manned space missions (life sciences). The main payloads are two greenhouses, each maintained as a pressurized closed loop system, simulating the environmental conditions of the Moon or of Mars.

• eXCITe (eXperiment for Cellular Integration Technology), a DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) mission to demonstrate the 'satlets' technology. Satlets are a new low-cost, modular satellite architecture that can scale almost infinitely. Satlets are small modules that incorporate multiple essential satellite functions and share data, power and thermal management capabilities. Satlets physically aggregate in different combinations that would provide capabilities to accomplish diverse missions.Built by NovaWurks, eXCITE has a mass of 155 kg. eXCITE also carries the See Me (Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements), a prototype microsatellite (~22 kg) built by Raytheon for DARPA to obtain on-demand satellite imagery in a timely and persistent manner for pre-mission planning.

• ExseedSat-1, a 1U CubeSat mission by the Indian company Exseed Space. The goal is to provide a multifunction UHF/VHF NBFM (Narrow Band Frequency Modulation) amateur communication satellite.

• FalconSat-6, a minisatellite (181 kg) of the USAFA (U.S. Air Force Academy) and sponsored by AFRL. FalconSat-6 hosts a suite of five payloads to address key AFSPC (Air Force Space Command) needs: SSA (Space Situational Awareness) and the need to mature pervasive technologies such as propulsion, solar arrays, and low power communications.

• Flock-3, three 3U CubeSats (5 kg each) of Planet Labs to provide Earth observation.

• Fox-1C, a radio amateur and technology research 1U CubeSat developed by AMSAT and hosting several university developed payloads.

• HawkEye, a formation-flying cluster of three microsatellites (13.4 kg each) of HawkEye 360, Herndon, VA, USA. The goal is to demonstrate high-precision RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) geolocation technology monitoring.

• Hiber-1 and-2, these are 6U CubeSats, a pathfinder mission of Hiber Global, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, for Hiber Global's planned (IoT) communications CubeSat constellation.

• ICE-Cap (Integrated Communications Extension Capability), a 3U CubeSat of the US Navy. The objectives are to demonstrate a cross-link from LEO (Low Earth Orbit) to MUOS (Mobile User Objective System) WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) in GEO (Geosynchronous Orbit). The objective is to send to users on secure networks.

• ICEYE-X2, a X-band SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) microsatellite (~ 80 kg) of Iceye Ltd, a commercial satellite startup company of Espoo, Finland.

• Irvine 02, a 1U CubeSat educational mission by the Irvine Public School Foundation, Irvine, CA. The Irvine CubeSat STEM Program (ICSP) is a multi-year endeavor that directly impacts over a hundred students from six high schools and two school districts.

• ITASAT-1 (Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica Satellite), a Brazilian 6U Cubesat (~8kg) built by the Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica (ITA). A former rescoped microsatellite mission.

• JY1-Sat, a 1U CubeSat of Jordan developed by students of various universities. The satellite will carry a UHF/VHF amateur radio.

• KazSTSAT (Kazakh Science and Technology Satellite), a microsatellite (<100 kg) of Ghalam LLP, Astana, Kazakhstan. Developed by SSTL on a SSTL-50 platform including an SSTL EarthMapper payload designed for global commercial wide-area imaging with a resolution of 17.5 m on a swath of 250 km.

• KNACKSAT (KMUTNB Academic Challenge of Knowledge SATellite) of Thailand, a 1U technology demonstration CubeSat, the first entirely Thai-built satellite, developed by students of King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok (KMUTNB). Use of an amateur radio for communication.

• Landmapper-BC (Corvus BC 4), a 6U CubeSat (11 kg) of Astro Digital (formerly Aquila Space), Santa Clara, CA, USA. The satellite features a broad coverage multispectral (Red, Green, NIR) imaging system with a resolution of 22 m.

• MinXSS-2 (Miniature X-ray Solar Spectrometer-2), a 3U CubeSat(4 kg) of LASP (Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics) at the University of Colorado at Boulder,CO, USA. The objective is to study the energy distribution of solar flare SXR (Soft X-ray) emissions and its impact on the Earth’s ITM (Ionosphere, Thermosphere, and Mesosphere) layers.MinXSS-2 is a copy of the MinXSS-1 but with some improvements. — MinXSS-1 was launched on 06 December 2015 onboard of Cygnus CRS-4 to the ISS, were it was deployed into orbit on 16 May 2016. It reentered Earth's atmosphere on 6 May 2017.

• NEXTSat-1, a multi-purpose microsatellite (~100 kg) of Korea designed and developed at SaTReC (Satellite Technology Research Center) of KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology). The goal is to conduct scientific missions such as star formation and space storm measurements and also technology demonstration in space. Instruments: ISSS (Instrument for the Study of Space Storms) developed at KAIST to detect plasma densities and particle fluxes of 10 MeV energy range near the Earth. NISS (NIR Imaging Spectrometer for Star formation history), developed at KASI (Korean Astronomy and Space Science Institute).

• Orbital Reflector, a 3U CubeSat project (4 kg) of the Nevada Museum of Art and artist Trevor Paylon. The Orbital Reflector is a 30 m sculpture constructed of a lightweight material similar to Mylar. On deployment, the sculpture self-inflates like a balloon. Sunlight reflects onto the sculpture making it visible from Earth with the naked eye — like a slowly moving artificial star as bright as a star in the Big Dipper.

• ORS-7 (Operationally Responsive Space 7), two 6U CubeSats (-7A and -7B) of the USCG (US Coast Guard) in cooperation with DHS (Department of Homeland Security), the ORS (Operationally Responsive Space Office) of DoD, and NOAA. The objective is to detect transmissions from EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons), which are carried on board vessels to broadcast their position if in distress.

• PW-Sat 2 (Politechnika Warszawska Satellite 2), a 2U CubeSat of the Institute of Radioelectronics at the Warsaw University of Technology, Warsaw, Poland. The objective is to demonstrate a deorbitation system - a drag parachute opened behind the satellite - which allows faster removal of satellites from their orbit after it completes its mission.

• RAAF-M1 (Royal Australian Air Force-M1), an Australian 3U CubeSat (~4 kg) designed and built by UNSW (University of New South Wales) for the Australian Defence Force Academy, Royal Australian Air Force. RAAF-M1 is a technology demonstration featuring an AIS receiver, and ADS-B receiver, an SDR (Software Defined Radio).

• RANGE-A and -B (Ranging And Nanosatellite Guidance Experiment), two 1.5 CubeSats of Georgia Tech (Georgia Institute of Technology), Atlanta, GA, USA, flying in a leader-follower formation with the goal of improving the relative and absolute positioning capabilities of nanosatellites.

• ROSE-1, a 6U CubeSat of Phase Four Inc., El Segundo, CA, USA. ROSE-1 is an experimental spacecraft designed to provide an orbital test-bed for the Phase Four RFT (Radio Frequency Thruster), the first plasma propulsion system to fly on a nanosatellite.

• SeaHawk-1, a 3U CubeSats of UNCW (University of North Carolina, Wilmington), NC. The goal is to measure the ocean color in project SOCON (Sustained Ocean Observation from Nanosatellites). SeaHawk is considered a prototype for a larger constellation. The SOCON project is a collaboration between Clyde Space Ltd (spacecraft bus), the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Cloudland Instruments, and NASA/GSFC (Goddard Space Flight Center).

• See Me (Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements), a prototype microsatellite (~22 kg) built by Raytheon for DARPA to obtain on-demand satellite imagery in a timely and persistent manner for pre-mission planning.

• SkySat-14 and -15. Planet Labs of San Francisco has 13 SkySats in orbit. The commercial EO satellites were built by Terra Bella of Mountain View, CA, which Planet Labs acquired from Google last year. At the time of the purchase, there were 7 SkySats in orbit. On 31 October 2017, Planet launched an additional six on a Minotaur-C rocket. The 100 kg SkySats are capable of sub-meter resolution – making them the most powerful in the constellation. Customers can request to have these high-resolution satellites target their locations of interest.

• SNUGLITE, a 2U CubeSat designed by the SNU (Seoul National University) for technology demonstrations and amateur radio communication.

• SpaceBEE, four picosatellites of Swarm Technologies (a US start-up), built to the 0.25U form factor to make up a 1U CubeSat.

• STPSat-5 is a science technology minisatellite of the US DoD STP (Space Test Program), managed by the SMC of the USAF. STPSat-5 will carry a total of five technological or scientific payloads to LEO (Low Earth Orbit) in order to further the DoD’s understanding of the space environment. The satellite was built by SNC (Sierra Nevada Corporation) on the modular SN-50 bus with a payload capacity of 50-100 kg and compatible with ESPA-class secondary launch adaptors.

• THEA, a 3U CubeSat built by SpaceQuest, Ltd. of Fairfax, VA to demonstrate a spectrum survey payload developed by Aurora Insight, Washington DC. The objective is to qualify Aurora’s payload, consisting of a proprietary spectrometer and components, and demonstrate the generation of relevant measurements of the spectral environment (UHF, VHF, S-band). The results of the experiment will inform future development of advanced instrumentation by Aurora and component development by SpaceQuest.

• VESTA is a 3U CubeSat developed at SSTL in Guildford, UK. VESTA is a technology demonstration mission that will test a new two-way VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) payload for the exactEarth advanced maritime satellite constellation. Honeywell Aerospace is providing the payload. VESTA is a flagship project of the National Space Technology Program, funded by the UK Space Agency and managed by the Center for EO Instrumentation and Space Technology (CEOI-ST).

• VisionCube-1, a 2U CubeSat designed by the Korea Aerospace University (KAU) to perform research on Transient Luminous Events in the upper atmosphere. The image processing payload consists of a multi-anode photon multiplier tube(MaPMT), a camera, and a real-time image processing engine built by using SoC (System-on-Chip) FPGA technologies.

Spaceflight has contracted with 64 spacecraft from 34 different organizations for the mission to a Sun-Synchronous Low Earth Orbit. It includes 15 microsatellites and 49 CubeSats from both commercial and government entities, of which more than 25 are from international organizations from 17 countries, including United States, Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Finland, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, UK, Germany, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Poland, Canada, Brazil, and India. 16)

Launch 2: Capella-2 (nicknamed Sequoia) payload, a 107 kg SAR small satellite , was launched on 30 August 2020 (03:05 UTC) on a Rocket Lab Electron vehicle from New Zealand's Launch Complex 1 at Mahia. This was a dedicated mission for Capella Space Corporation of Palo Alto, California. Capella Space named the mission: 'I Can't Believe It's Not Optical.' 18)

Orbit: Near-circular orbit, altitude of 525 km, inclination of 45º.

Launch 3: The Capella-3 (Capella Whitney 1) and Capella-4 (Capella Whitney 2) small satellites were launched on 24 January 2021 on the SpaceX first Rideshare mission called Transporter-1. SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (SLC-40) with 143 small satellites, a record number of spacecraft on a single mission, giving a boost to startup space companies and stressing the U.S. military’s tracking network charged with sorting out the locations of all objects in orbit. This SpaceX mission carried also 10 Starlink satellites into orbit. 19)

SSO orbit of Rideshare mission: SpaceX sent this mission with its 10 Starlink satellites into a polar SSO (Sun-Synchronous Orbit) with permission of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). Altitude of 560 km and inclination of 97.6º.

Launch 4: On Saturday, May 15, 2021 at 22:56 UTC (6:56 p.m. EDT) a SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle launched a set of 52 Starlink satellites, the Capella-6 (Capella Whitney 4) SAR small satellite, and a Tyvak-0310 nanosatellite (6U CubeSat) from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 20)

Launch 5: The Capella-5 (Capella Whitney 3) SAR small satellite with a mass of ~ 110 kg was launched as a passenger payload by a Falcon 9 Block 5 vehicle on 30 June 2021 at 3:31 p.m. EDT (19:31 UTC) on the SpaceX Transporter-2 mission. The launch site was the Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. 21)

Deployment of the payload of 88 satellites started nearly 58 minutes after liftoff, once the upper stage performed a second burn of its engine to place it into a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of nearly 550 km and an inclination of 97.5º. The satellites, from a variety of government and commercial customers, were released over half an hour.
Capella Space launched its Capella-5 small satellite with a Maxwell electric thruster manufactured by propulsion startup Phase Four.22)

 “The Maxwell systems in our satellites have been functioning nominally in the lab and in orbit, and Phase Four has provided great customer service all along the way,” Christian Lenz, Capella chief technology officer, said in a statement. “This has given us confidence to order additional engines. We look forward to continuing our partnership and look forward to future advances in Phase Four’s technology.”
Most passenger satellites of this mission are listed in the Transporter-2 file on the eoPortal.

Launch 6: The Capella-7 (Whitney 5) & Capella-8 (Whitney 6) SAR small satellites of Capella Space were launched as passenger payloads by a Falcon 9 Block 5 vehicle of SpaceX on 13 January 2022 at 15:25 UTC (10:25 EST) on the SpaceX Transporter-3 rideshare mission (total of 105 satellites on the flight). The launch site was the Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. 23)

Orbit: Sun-synchronous orbit of 536 km altitude.

Launch 7: The Capella-9 (Whitney 7) & Capella-10 (Whitney 8) SAR satellites were launched on a dedicated Rocket Lab Electron vehicle on March 11, 2023 at 22:38 UTC (18:38 EST). The satellites were launched from Rocket Labs’ US launchpad at Wallops Island, Virginia.

Orbit: 44 degree orbit at 600 km altitude.38)

Launch 8: The Capella-11 SAR satellite (Acadia-1), was launched on a dedicated Rocket Lab Electron vehicle on August 23, 2023 August 24th at 11:45 a.m., NZST (August 23rd, at 23;45 UTC), from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula.

Orbit: 53 degree orbit at 646.8 km altitude. 40)

Launch 9: The Capella-12 SAR satellite (Acadia-2), was launched on a dedicated Rocket Lab Electron vehicle on September 19, 2023 at 2:55 a.m. Eastern, from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. 
The launch failed after approximately two minutes. The company did not disclose additional details about the issue.
 


 

Mission Status

• September 19, 2023: A Rocket Lab Electron failed during the launch of a Capella Space radar imaging satellite.
The Electron launch vehicle lifted off at 2:55 a.m. Eastern from Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, after a delay of about 20 minutes because of space weather conditions. The liftoff and ascent of the first stage appeared to go as expected, with “nominal” calls by controllers up until stage separation.
Live video from the second stage, though, was lost right after separation, when the single Rutherford engine ignited. Telemetry displayed on the webcast for several seconds after stage separation showed the vehicle’s velocity decreasing, suggesting the engine had malfunctioned in some way.

“Following lift-off from Launch Complex 1, the rocket successfully completed a first stage burn and stage separation as planned, before an issue was experienced at around T+ 2 minutes and 30 seconds into flight, resulting in the end of the mission,” Rocket Lab said in a statement after the failure. The company did not disclose additional details about the issue. 
The failure is the third for the Electron in a little more than three years, with the previous two involving problems with the upper stage.

• August 23, 2023: The Electron ‘We Love The Nightlife’ mission lifted off at 11:45 a.m., NZST, from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula and deployed Capella’s next gen Acadia-1 satellite for its synthetic aperture radar (SAR) constellation. 42)

• March 16, 2023: Electron rocket, the second of its kind from Rocket Lab, placed into orbit two new Capella Space radar imaging satellites, Capella-9 (Whitney-7) and Capella-10 (Whitney-8). The launch occurred at Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia, at 6:38 p.m., with a five-day delay from the original schedule due to poor weather.

 • February 28, 2023: Rocket Lab signs multi-launch agreement for four Electron missions to deploy four of Capella’s third-generation, Acadia satellites. (Link)

• February 22, 2023: Capella launches the Analytics Partner Program to open access to SAR data and offer additional resources for analytics companies to develop AI-powered geospatial solutions. (Link)

• January 31, 2023: Capella announces creation of Capella Federal, a wholly-owned subsidiary to support U.S. government and defense agency customers. (Link)

• January 10, 2023: Capella raises $60 million in growth equity from the U.S. Innovative Technology Fund to expand satellite imaging capacity (Link)

• August 10, 2022: Capella Space Unveils Next Generation Satellite “Acadia” with Enhanced Imagery Capabilities and Communication Features (Link)

Figure 6: Capella’s third-generation Acadia SAR satellite, (image credit: Capella Space)
Figure 6: Capella’s third-generation Acadia SAR satellite, (image credit: Capella Space)

 • July 14, 2022: Satellite Imagery from Capella Space Now Openly Accessible on the Amazon Web Services Cloud (Link)

• April 25, 2022: Capella Space raised $97 million in a Series C investment round led by NightDragon, which raises the total investment in the San Francisco based company to $190 million since its founding in 2016. Existing Capella investors Data Collective Venture Capital and Cota Capital also participated in the funding round, reinforcing their belief in the company. With the additional funding, Capella is to expand its seven-satellite constellation, develop a new generation of higher resolution satellites, enhance its Capella Console data platform and expand its staff, currently of about 160 people, to meet growing demand for synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery and data, which has increased considerably since last year.

Figure 7: This Capella Space image of the December 2021 Marshall Fire in Boulder County, Colorado. The image was captured through smoke, clouds and heavy snowfall (image credit: Capella Space)
Figure 7: This Capella Space image of the December 2021 Marshall Fire in Boulder County, Colorado. The image was captured through smoke, clouds and heavy snowfall (image credit: Capella Space)

​​​​​• April 14, 2022: Capella Space announced three new integrated analytics capabilities into its image-tasking web application, the Capella Console. Vessel Detection (which, by use of artificial intelligence, can identify and locate maritime vessels from satellite images), Change Detection (users can create automated monitoring campaigns that compare changes over time for an area of interest), and Global Change Monitoring (users have more access and more insight into all corners of the globe via the Global Change Monitoring product) support Capella's vision to offer a fully automated image tasking system that provides customers with timely, reliable, and accurate imagery capture and data analysis. 25) With these new products, Capella expands its services so government and commercial customers can not only task and collect high-resolution SAR imagery on demand, but also gain automated insights into what the imagery is showing.

Figure 8: Port of Gibraltar. (image by Capella Space)
Figure 8: Port of Gibraltar. (image by Capella Space)
Figure 9: Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar (image by Capella Space)
Figure 9 Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar (image credit: Capella Space)

• November 9, 2021: Capella Space announced the installation of optical communications terminals on SAR satellites by 2022 as part of a campaign to quickly deliver data to the Pentagon Space Development Agency’s (SDA) new National Defense Space Architecture, the company announced Nov. 9. 26) “Enabling our satellites to integrate with the new SDA architecture efficiently is a critical step for us to work seamlessly with the U.S. defense and intelligence sector. We are proud to be able to work with the SDA in demonstrating this cutting-edge technology.” Christian Lenz, Capella Space chief technology officer, said in a statement. Capella selected Mynaric’s CONDOR Mk3 Optical Communications Terminal to transmit data from its own satellites in low Earth orbit to government satellites and to military ground stations.

• October 21, 2021: Capella Space is working with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Technical Center (SMDTC) to satisfy Army demand for Earth observation with rapid tasking and delivery of synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) data. 27) Under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) announced Oct. 21, Capella and the U.S. Army Payload Development Lab are to explore applications for SAR through simulation and testing. Capella continues to establish relationships with the U.S. government agencies after last year’s contracts with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Space Force, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon Space Development Agency. Government agencies around the world are key customers for SAR, which can peer through clouds and capture imagery day and night. In addition to the imagery, SAR data can reveal the material properties of objects as well as provide information on moisture, elevation and small changes in the position of objects. “The U.S. Government is still the largest customer of SAR data, but we are actively building a market for commercial applications that help companies and nongovernmental organizations make better economic decisions,” said Payam Banazadeh, Capella’s CEO.

 
Figure 10: Capella Space synthetic-aperture radar image of the Chinese National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, the site of opening ceremonies for the 2022 winter Olympics in China (image credit: Capella Space)
Figure 10: Capella Space synthetic-aperture radar image of the Chinese National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, the site of opening ceremonies for the 2022 winter Olympics in China (image credit: Capella Space)

• September 14, 2021: Capella Space announced plans to share SAR data gathered by its satellite constellation with researchers, nonprofit organizations, application developers and disaster response organizations. 28) Users of Capella’s Open Data Program will gain access to updated and historical imagery and data from the Capella Console, San Francisco startup’s online platform. Open Data Program currently consists of 60 high-resolution SAR scenes of sites on every continent, showing agriculture and aquaculture, energy and natural resources, infrastructure, maritime, environmental, humanitarian disasters and natural disasters. Through the initiative, Capella intends “to foster innovation and discover the next game-changing applications of SAR” says Jason Brown, Capella community enablement engineer, wrote in a Sept. 14 blog post.

Figure 11: Capella Space captured this synthetic-aperture radar image of South America's Pantanal tropical wetlands on April 14, 2021 (image credit: Capella Space)
Figure 11: Capella Space captured this synthetic-aperture radar image of South America's Pantanal tropical wetlands on April 14, 2021 (image credit: Capella Space)
 

• June 17, 2021: Capella Space on June 14 received a $3 million research contract in support of the Space Development Agency’s National Defense Space Architecture. 29) Capella Space was selected through a “broad agency announcement” issued by the space agency in January seeking proposals on a wide range of technologies for “National Defense Space Architecture Systems, Technologies, and Emerging Capabilities.” 

• June 9, 2021: Capella Releases Two New SAR Data Products: Geocoded Ellipsoid Corrected (GEC) and Sensor Independent Complex Data (SICD).

• May 28, 2021: Capella Space released the first light images from Capella-6, the latest satellite added to their SAR satellite constellation, launched just 5 days earlier on the SpaceX Starlink 28 mission. This is a breakthrough in the SAR industry, as the standard for imagery deliveries of an already orbiting satellite used to be of 5 days. In this same amount of time, Capella have launched, commissioned, and collected imagery. 30)

Figure 12: Reflector Antenna Deployment. Engineers deployed the antenna over a series of ground contacts, tensioning the instrument to millimeter-level precision. In this image, you can see the final deployment of our mesh-based reflector antenna. It’s designed to deliver high-contrast, high-resolution and low-noise imagery (image credit: Capella Space)

Figure 12: Reflector Antenna Deployment. Final deployment of the mesh-based reflector antenna. (image credit: Capella Space) 

Figure 13: The Capella-6 satellite’s first light image captured the Erez Border Crossing between Israel and Gaza one hour before the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas went into effect. At 50 cm x 50 cm resolution, this image shows the Erez Border Crossing with rich details such as the terminal, security fence and road networks where humanitarian aid has begun to enter into the Gaza strip by truck. We are thrilled to provide additional capacity on our satellites so that our customers can rapidly access 24/7 all-weather data needed to make better economic, environmental and security decisions (image credit: Capella Space)
Figure 13: The Capella-6 satellite’s first light image captured the Erez Border Crossing between Israel and Gaza one hour before the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas went into effect. At 50 cm x 50 cm resolution, this image shows the Erez Border Crossing with details such as the terminal, security fence and road networks where humanitarian aid has begun to enter into the Gaza strip by truck. (Image credit: Capella Space)
Figure 14: The Space Selfie. Our constellation captured this “selfie” of LC39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida where our newest SAR satellite spent its last moments on Earth (image credit: Capella Space)
Figure 14: The Space Selfie. Our constellation captured this “selfie” of LC39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida where our newest SAR satellite spent its last moments on Earth (image credit: Capella Space)

• ​​​​​​April 14, 2021: Capella Space Accelerates 2021 Growth with New Chief Financial Officer and Expanded Leadership Team (Link)

• March 12, 2021: Capella Space Welcomes Dan Getman, VP of Product (Link)

Figure 15: Capella Space tweeted this Nov. 10 Sequoia synthetic aperture radar image of the embankments of the Sông Bac Liêu flowing just south of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam (image credit: Capella Space)
Figure 15: Capella Space tweeted this Nov. 10 Sequoia synthetic aperture radar image of the embankments of the Sông Bac Liêu flowing just south of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam (image credit: Capella Space)

• December 16, 2020: Capella is the highest resolution commercial SAR provider in the world, capable of 50 cm x 50 cm resolution imaging with up to 500 MHz of bandwidth (which is announced to be improved to 1.2 GHz in the next generations). Prior to Capella, the best resolution on the market was 1 m x 25 cm, with non-square pixels which created its own challenges, and limited bandwidth of 300 MHz. Capella satellites could dwell on a single target for as long as 60 seconds, which far exceeds previous technology which could only dwell for a few seconds. Images of this resolution can be used to better track vegetation fires or to make disappearing planes a matter of the past. The high-resolution images are available to the customers through the Capella Console and API.

Capella’s Spot product is a specialized mode that allows for long exposures over an area of interest (AOI) and results in clear SAR imagery. This 50 cm x 50 cm imagery is collected by dwelling the satellites over an AOI for a long period.

Figure 16: The metallic refining units and piping brightly reflect radar signals at ExxonMobil’s Singapore Chemical plant on Jurong Island. Very high resolution zoomed in views show the granular features of an oil tanker docked near floating roof storage tanks (image credit: Capella Space)
Figure 16: The metallic refining units and piping brightly reflect radar signals at ExxonMobil’s Singapore Chemical plant on Jurong Island. Very high resolution zoomed in views show the granular features of an oil tanker docked near floating roof storage tanks (image credit: Capella Space)
 
Figure 17: Solar Farm, Tiangang Lake, China: Such imagery could be used to gauge the power output (image credit: Capella Space)
Figure 17: Solar Farm, Tiangang Lake, China: Such imagery could be used to gauge the power output (image credit: Capella Space)

 

Figure 18: Spotlight mode: This new mode is enabled by our unique satellite design that allows us to mechanically steer our sensor to dwell on a single target for a long duration. Spot mode is supported by the satellite’s extensive imaging capacity which allows us to take many of these long dwell collects throughout each of our orbits. We’ve been able to build such a unique system due to our vertical integration approach between our hardware and software – from our SAR payload, to the ground infrastructure, to the SAR processor, and the satellite hardware that goes with it all (image credit: Capella Space)
Figure 18: Spotlight mode: This mode allows to mechanically steer our sensor to dwell on a single target for a long duration. Spot mode is supported by the satellite’s extensive imaging capacity which allows to take many of these long dwell collects throughout each of our orbits. (image credit: Capella Space) 

• November 23, 2020: Fleet operator Inmarsat and communications technology firm Addvalue Innovation announced success relaying data between Capella Space’s operations center on the ground and Capella’s Sequoia SAR satellite in low Earth orbit. 32) For years, London-based Inmarsat and Addvalue Innovation, a subsidiary of Singapore-based Addvalue Technologies Ltd., have worked together to establish a commercial Intersatellite Data Relay System (IDRS) to continuously link satellites in low Earth orbit with ground networks. This has now become possible due to Capella’s SAR satellites. Capella Space conducted the first commercial demonstration of the IDRS service Nov. 12 when it sent tasking orders to Sequoia through the Inmarsat-4 L-band constellation in geostationary orbit. Inmarsat and Addvalue also expect IDRS technology to be adopted by customers gathering climate data and performing disaster relief missions because it allows operators to send commands to satellites without waiting for them to pass over ground stations. “This real-time connectivity will allow us to significantly reduce the time between customer tasking requests and when we collect the data on-orbit.” said Christian Lenz, Capella Space vice president of engineering.

• July 9, 2020: Capella Space has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). The CRADA gives Capella access to NGA researchers for deeper insight into problems and in return NGA gains access to Capella Space’s SAR data and analytics services and signifies NGA’s first research partnership with an American commercial small satellite SAR data company, in an effort to expand its research capabilities. 35) . Capella will play a critical role in satisfying NGA’s mission to expand its production and publication of unclassified operations and intelligence. The CRADA further strengthens Capella Space’s already-trusted relationship with United States government agencies. This past May, Capella Space signed a contract with the Department of Defense to provide on-demand, high-resolution SAR data and analytics for the U.S. Navy.

• June 30, 2020: Capella Space runs its entire IT infrastructure on AWS to automate and scale its operations. Capella leverages AWS storage, database, machine learning, and analytics services to process the terabyte-size data collected daily by the satellites. The finessed data is immediately available upon downlink, helping its customers quickly gain insights for dynamic applications such as detecting illegal maritime activities and assessing the impact of natural disasters. Furthermore, Capella is developing a searchable archive of Earth observation data in the cloud, providing its customers with benchmark data so they can track subtle changes to the environment, discerning patterns over time to help them inform business and policy decisions.36)

• March 5, 2020: Capella Space and Rocket Lab to Launch Mid-Inclination Satellite to Enable Improved Monitoring of Key Global Regions (Link)

• January 21, 2020: Capella Space Unveils Advanced Satellite Design to Deliver High Resolution On-Demand Earth Observation Data (Link)
Capella's first testbed satellite Denali, as well as ground-based testing. Enhancements include:

  1. Advanced design delivering high contrast, low-noise, sub-0.5 meter imagery: A 3.5 meter deployed mesh-based reflector antenna combined with a high power RADAR enable key performance improvements including quality advances.
  2. Extended duty cycle: A deployed 400 W solar array increases on-orbit duty cycle to 10 minutes per orbit.
  3. Continuous imaging over long distance: Advanced thermal management systems allow continuous imaging of up to 4000 km long strip images.
  4. Highly agile platform: Enabled by large reaction wheels, the new satellite quickly adjusts pointing to collect images from diverse targets.
  5. Staring spotlight image mode: New mode further enhances image quality with the ability to collect the highest commercially available multi-look data.
  6. Enhanced data downlink rate: A high average data rate downlink of 1.2 Gbit/s supports the massive image collection rate and extended duty cycle, providing more data per orbit than any other commercial SAR system in its class.
  7. Real-time tasking: A highly secure encrypted two-way link with Inmarsat through an exclusive partnership with Addvalue provides real time tasking capability for the entire Capella constellation.
 

• December 16, 2019: Capella to Start Commercial Operations in 2020 with Launch of Seven Synthetic Aperture Radar Satellites (Link)

• September 3, 2019: Capella Space Partners with SpaceNet® to Expand Access to SAR Data (Link)
Capella joins the collaborative SpaceNet partnership alongside In-Q-Tel’s (IQT) CosmiQ Works, Maxar Technologies, Intel AI and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Capella’s addition to the partnership presents an exciting opportunity to expand SpaceNet’s existing geospatial open source research to a new data type, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR).

• August 5, 2019: Capella Space Partners with Addvalue and Inmarsat for Real-time Tasking (Link), a one-stop digital, wireless and broadband communications technology products innovator, for the use of its Inter-Satellite Data Relay System (IDRS™) via Inmarsat’s global L-band satellite communications network. The Inmarsat network provides satellite uplink and downlink services, which enable Capella to task any satellite in its constellation in any location in the world in real-time. Through its agreement with Addvalue, Capella will have a significant market lead as the only SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) provider with real-time tasking capability. 

• June 3, 2019: Capella Space (having at that point over 50 employees and $50 million financing) launched the first small U.S. radar satellite in December 2018, whose purpose was to set the ground for the desired constellation of 36 synthetic aperture radar satellites. The main advantage of these satellites is that, unlike electro optical satellites which require light, radar satellites capture imagery during the day, at night and through clouds. Capella plans to launch Sequoia, its first operational satellite. Capella also is establishing its infrastructure to allow customers to downlink satellite data directly. 37)

• December 3, 2018: Capella Space Is First American Company to Send Advanced Commercial Radar Satellite to Space (Link)
• September 26, 2018: Capella Space Closes $19M Series B to Deliver Reliable Earth Observation Data on Demand(Link)

• March 2018: NOAA awarded Capella a license to send two X-band SAR satellites into polar orbits between 450 to 600 km with an inclination of ~97.5º.


References

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2) Debra Werner, ”Capella’s first satellite launching this fall,” Space News, 8 August 2018, URL: https://spacenews.com/capellas-first-satellite-launching-this-fall/

3) Craig Stringham, Gordon Farquharson, Davide Castelletti, Eric Quist, Lucas Riggi, Duncan Eddy, and Scott Soenen, ”The Capella X-band SAR constellation for rapid imaging,” Proceedings of the 39th annual IGARSS (International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium) 2019, Yokohama, Japan, 28 July - 2 August 2019

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39) Jeff Foust, 16 March, 2023, “Electron launches two Capella Space radar satellites”. URL: https://spacenews.com/electron-launches-two-capella-space-radar-satellites/ 

40) Wikipedia, “Capella Space”, URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capella_Space 

41) Foust, Jeff, “Electron fails during Capella Space launch”, Space News, September 19, 2023, URL: https://spacenews.com/electron-fails-during-capella-space-launch/  

42) Sat News, “Rocket Lab launches their 40th Electron mission + successfully flies a reused Rutherford engine”, August 23, 2023, URL: https://news.satnews.com/2023/08/23/rocket-lab-launches-their-40th-electron-mission-successfully-flies-a-reused-rutherford-engine/  


The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: ”Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors” (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (eoportal@symbios.space)

 

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