Announcing Our Sequoia Launch: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Optical!

When I founded Capella Space in 2016, it was with a clear mission: to make timely, reliable Earth observation data available on demand. Since then, my team has worked tirelessly to build small but powerful satellites and the ground infrastructure needed to deliver synthetic aperture radar (SAR) in the most user-friendly and customer-centric way possible.

Today, I’m excited to announce that we are one step closer to making that vision a reality. We’re partnering with Rocket Lab, a launch provider and space systems company, to launch Sequoia, the first publicly available satellite in our planned constellation. The two-week launch window opens on August 26, 2020.

I’m especially proud of the team for achieving this milestone right now, despite the challenges we’re facing because of COVID-19. The pandemic has impacted much of the economy, and the space industry is no exception. COVID-19 has affected our supplier network and our initial launch plans and required our satellite team to work in shifts in reduced group sizes. But despite all the challenges, our team was able to not only get Sequoia across the world to launch out of New Zealand, but also is on track for manufacturing the rest of the constellation as our other launches are approaching.

Sequoia is a 100 kg class microsatellite and will be positioned in a 45-degree inclination. This mid-inclination allows us to give our customers immediate access to rapid coverage of important regions, including the Middle East, Korea, Japan, Europe, South East Asia, Africa, and the U.S. Like all of our Capella satellites, Sequoia will be able to see through clouds and in the dark and detect sub-0.5 meter changes on Earth’s surface. When fully deployed, our satellite constellation will offer hourly coverage of every point on Earth.

We were fortunate to work with Rocket Lab to name this mission “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Optical,” a reference to our innovative SAR satellite technology, which overcomes the limits of the optical imagery used in other commercial satellites. Unlike optical, SAR can see through clouds, in all weather conditions and even at night. Our team voted on the mission name in June, ultimately choosing it as a nod to our unique satellite technology and the infamous advertisement campaign for “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.” We take our work seriously, but we don’t take ourselves that seriously.

This launch marks a significant milestone for Capella. We are looking forward to the next few weeks and days as we prepare for launch. Please stay tuned as we approach the launch window and ready Sequoia.

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