Capella’s End of Year Reflectance: Looking Back at 2021

It has been a busy year at Capella Space, and I am so proud of our team and all that we’ve achieved. We’ve come a long way since we started the company in a garage in 2016. I want to extend a huge thank you to the entire Capella team, our customers, partners and investors for helping us get to where we are today. We could not have accomplished so much without them and we thank them for their support and belief in us, both today and for what lies ahead. With so many major milestones and accomplishments, it’s hard to pick my favorites. But here are just a few highlights from this year:

Growing our operations as America’s leading SAR provider

We started off 2021 strong by officially opening for commercial operations in January. This was an exciting next step in our journey to making SAR data more accessible. Now, with both our direct sales team and reseller partner network, we’re able to distribute our high-quality SAR imagery to customers in almost every country — likely part of the reason we made the Fast Company Most Innovative Companies list for the second year running.

To support our growing operations, we added many new people to the team this year, including: Jon Campagna, our first CFO; Julie Ambory, VP of people; Dan Getman, VP of product; Nate Ricklin, VP of product engineering; Evelyne McCleland, VP of marketing, and Amy Hopkins, VP and GM of U.S. government. We also opened up two new manufacturing facilities and a mission control center in San Francisco, California, and Louisville, Colorado.

In November, we also became the first commercial SAR company to demonstrate Optical Inter-Satellite Link (OISL) compatibility with the U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA)’s new NDSA. The next generation of our SAR monitoring capabilities will leverage new technology that enables high delivery speeds and direct access to our 24/7 all-weather data for our U.S. Government customers.

Expanding our constellation

Our constellation of high-resolution small SAR satellites grew a lot this year. We launched several new satellites, including two in SpaceX’s historic Transporter-1 mission. In May, we launched, collected, and released imagery from one of our recently launched satellites in just five days — a record turnaround time for the SAR industry.

At 50cm x 50cm, the Spot images from our constellation are the highest resolution commercially available today, providing our customers with significantly more insights to support Earth observation monitoring and change detection.

Here’s a first light image from one of our 2021 launches:

Above: New Delhi – India Gate

Opening our data up to the public

SAR data has historically been a rare commodity, available only to specialized government and research institutions. Yet SAR data has vast potential to make positive change on a global scale. This year, we launched our Open Data Program to change that dynamic, democratizing access to high-resolution, low-latency SAR data to make it available and free to the people and organizations working to make positive change around the globe.

The Open Data Gallery offers a free database of our imagery covering a wide range of use cases and examples to show the power of SAR. The initial dataset includes imagery from the La Soufrière volcano eruption on St. Vincent, the 2021 New South Wales Australian floods, and Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, to name just a few places. We’ll continue adding new imagery so that the general public can help discover the next game-changing applications of SAR.

Here’s one of the images in the Open Data gallery:

Above: La Soufrière Volcano Eruption, April 2021

​​Hosting our second hackathon

In July, we hosted our second annual company hackathon, officially called “Hackapella 2.0: Higher, Faster, and Everywhere.” Nearly 30 teams participated, and tons of creative innovations came out of the three-day event. It was a lot of fun, and as with our first hackathon, it produced really interesting and innovative projects that may turn into products or capabilities down the road. You can read about some of the hackathon winners here.

Launching into 2022

While we’ve accomplished a lot in the last 12 months, we’re just getting started at Capella. There’s much to come on our journey to democratizing access to SAR data and providing the world with the highest quality, highest resolution SAR data on the market. We have a lot in store already for 2022 and I can’t wait to share more with you soon.