2023 was an extraordinarily busy year for Capella Space. From launching the first of our third-generation satellites to becoming a leading partner for both government and commercial industry, we are continuing to push the boundaries of how SAR technology can be used to improve decisions about commerce, conservation and security on Earth.
Scaling the Business
Capella met 2023 with a strong start having raised $60 million in growth equity from the U.S. Innovative Technology Fund in order to expand imaging capacity and develop new data products for growing customer demand. Soon after, Capella began a move into a larger facility in Colorado, almost doubling the size of its office space and manufacturing floor to accommodate the accelerating growth of the business.
Serving diverse government customers
Capella has been collaborating with the U.S. government since its inception, working to broaden access to high-resolution, unclassified, commercial SAR imagery. In August, Capella was awarded a Proliferated Low Earth Orbit Satellite-Based Services (PLEO) contract through the U.S. Space Systems Command (SSC) to support SSC and the U.S. Space Force with access to SAR imagery for key missions. Capella was also awarded two Commercial Satellite Data Acquisition (CSDA) contracts with NASA to determine the suitability of Capella’s data to advance NASA’s Earth science missions: a multi-year blanket purchase agreement and an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity, multiple-award contract. This enables NASA research evaluators from across the country with easy access to Capella’s high-resolution data archive and automated tasking capabilities as they find novel new ways to monitor the Earth and our environment.
In partnership with Pacific Geomatics, Capella imagery is also now available to government offices across Canada through Canada’s National Master Standing Offers. Canadian officials have easy access to Capella’s high-quality imagery and automated tasking capabilities for a variety of use cases including monitoring natural resources, mining operations, ice flows, maritime activity and more.
Welcoming the next-generation, Acadia satellite to space
In 2023, Capella launched its first Acadia satellite, upgrading the existing constellation with next-generation satellite technology and advanced SAR capabilities. The “Stronger Together” mission with Rocket Lab from Wallops, Virginia, USA was the last launch of Capella’s Whitney-class satellites. Soon after, as part of a multi-launch deal for four dedicated Rocket Lab Electron missions to launch Capella’s third-generation Acadia satellites, the “We Love the Nightlife” mission successfully placed Acadia-1 into orbit after flawless commissioning by Capella’s mission operations team. Despite losing Acadia-2 due to a launch failure, we continue moving forward with an aggressive launch schedule through 2024.
Becoming a leading partner for advanced analytics
Capella has long been a partner to the community of researchers and scientists from around the world looking to uncover cutting-edge use cases with high-resolution SAR data. This year, Capella took new steps to broaden this community by formally introducing the Capella Space Analytics Partner Program to accelerate the development of new solutions leveraging the 24/7, all-weather imaging capabilities of SAR. This program is a first for commercial SAR imagery, offering more open access to Capella’s SAR imagery archive, technical support, and go-to-market resources for analytics companies interested in developing next-generation applications powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Soon after the launch of the program, Capella announced LiveEO as one of the first Certified Analytics Partners, bringing Capella’s high-resolution SAR data into their Rapid Response Insights solution for effective storm response for infrastructure and utility managers.
Demonstrating new capabilities
One of the core pillars of Capella’s mission and culture is constant iteration and improvement, which enables the team to continuously push the boundaries of SAR imaging and the satellite technology. This year, Capella’s research and development team demonstrated a novel bistatic collect capability – a technique used to improve object detection and classification, to avoid interference from radar jamming and to implement moving target indication and interferometry techniques.
We were also thrilled to share results from leading scientists and researchers leveraging open SAR data through Capella’s Community Program. This includes a more collaborative way of improving existing methods of mapping floods and developing deep learning algorithms for more precise deforestation and climate change monitoring. Now that Capella is also supported within the ArcGIS Pro SAR toolset, we look forward to share new success stories and use cases from Esri’s diverse user base.
To close out 2023 we extend our gratitude to Capella Space’s founder and former CEO Payam Banazadeh for establishing the first American commercial synthetic aperture radar company and bringing Capella’s high-resolution imagery to market. We are excited to welcome Frank Backes to the team as Capella’s new CEO to lead Capella into a new and exciting 2024 that includes an aggressive launch schedule, the demonstration of new capabilities and new partnerships to expand the availability of SAR-derived analytic solutions.