Celebrating Capella Space’s 5 Year Anniversary

On this day in 2016, when I founded Capella Space, I made a commitment to building a company that would provide timely, reliable, on-demand Earth observation data in a user-friendly, customer-centric way. Five years later, that vision holds strong and is a guiding force for the entire Capella team. 

The company has achieved a lot in the past several years, from launching our first satellites to growing into a large, supportive, committed, and talented team. So today, on our five year anniversary, I want to recognize and celebrate some of the major milestones we’ve achieved since March 2016:

Launching the first American commercial SAR satellites

Five years ago, commercial SAR was limited to a few European companies that each operated a single satellite and the US was falling behind. In 2016, we decided to change that dynamic and give Americans a seat at the SAR industry table with a reimagined constellation-based approach. I’m proud to say that in the last year, after a lot of hard work and dedication from the team, Capella launched our first commercially available SAR satellites. In addition to being the first commercial SAR constellation in the US, our satellites provide the highest resolution commercially available from any company around the globe. 

Since launching in September 2020 and February 2021, our satellites have provided breathtaking, high-resolution imagery that is and will continue to be invaluable to our customers. Our SAR systems capture imagery in all weather, day or night, at a 50cm resolution. You can check out some of our very first SAR images here.

Above: One of our first light images from Capella-2, captured above Palm Jumeirah in Dubai.

Making the Fast Company Most Innovative Companies list (twice!)

We are honored to be included in the Fast Company Most Innovative Companies list for the second year in a row. Each year, the Fast Company Most Innovative Companies list is a definitive source for recognizing the organizations that are transforming industries and shaping society, and our team’s inclusion for two years running is a testament to our groundbreaking and innovative SAR technology.

Signing contracts with major players in the US defense industry

Capella Space was born when the US Department of Defense sought help from Silicon Valley to make commercial SAR viable. As a participant in Stanford’s Hacking for Defense program, I had the opportunity to speak directly with US government customers who expressed the need for more reliable Earth observation capabilities. Today, federal agencies can benefit significantly from Capella’s high-resolution SAR imagery. Over the past few years, we’ve signed deals with a variety of US Department of Defense agencies, including the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, U.S. Airforce, and U.S. Navy

Above: Stanford’s Hacking for Defense class of 2016 program graduates. Look closely and you can see my signature under Capella Space.

These agencies can leverage our data for a variety of purposes, including timely disaster recovery, infrastructure monitoring, identifying types of aircraft or vehicles on the ground, and monitoring for indications and warnings of potential threats. Throughout 2021 and beyond, we’re well-positioned to continue growing partnerships in the U.S. government and providing these partners with reliable, high-resolution SAR data. 

Beginning commercial operations

Earlier this year, we announced the start of Capella’s commercial operations with the first and only Commercial FCC license for a U.S. designed and operated SAR provider. Between our direct sales and reseller partner network, we have already distributed our very high-resolution (VHR) SAR imagery to customers in almost every country on Earth.

In addition to quality, we’re leading the market in terms of deliverability, providing customers with our cloud-based Capella Console, automating the entire order-to-delivery process. By directly accessing our data in a secure browser experience, customers can task our satellite system and download SAR data in a fast-paced seamless user experience — a first of its kind in the SAR industry. Before Capella, our customers manually submitted imagery orders and waited up to two weeks for data.

Above: Capella’s automated order-to-delivery system has delighted customers by allowing them to steer our satellites and rapidly access SAR data at market-leading speeds.

Expanding our office footprint

Our team and operations have grown a lot over the past five years, so our manufacturing and office space has grown too. Last year, for example, we opened new manufacturing facilities and a mission control center in San Francisco, California, and Louisville, Colorado.

The manufacturing facilities contain cleanrooms for satellite assembly, avionics assembly and test stations, thermal test chambers, a thermal vacuum test chamber, and machine shops for building test equipment and rework. Our 24/7 mission control center is the nerve center for communicating with our constellation, enabling us to monitor the health of individual satellites, track where our SAR sensors are at all times, and issue commands to our growing constellation.

Last week we welcomed our 101st employee and we continue to grow.

Looking to the future

We’ve achieved a lot of major milestones since I founded Capella, and we aren’t slowing down the momentum any time soon. It’s been a rewarding five years and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead. We have big plans, including future satellite launches to add to our growing constellation, even faster order-to-delivery through automation, and algorithms capable of monitoring global change. We expect the next five years to be transformational for SAR and Earth observation in our journey to use data from space to improve life on Earth. Check out our blog for more exciting announcements in the coming months.