Satellite and Earth observation start-up Capella Space has unveiled a new design for its satellite technology, which has been improved on its existing test hardware platform to provide high-resolution imaging of details below 0.5 meters (1.6 feet). Its new satellite, called Sequoia, will be able to provide real-time missions, meaning Capella’s customers will be able to get images of the desired area from the satellite, essentially on demand.
Capella’s satellite is a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imaging satellite, which means that even if the target area is covered by clouds, or when the imaging area is at night, the satellite can provide 2D images of the Earth’s surface. SAR imaging resolution is typically much higher than the 0.5-meter range reached by Capella’s new design, and it will be particularly challenging to get this performance from a small satellite.
Capella said the new satellite design is a direct result of customer feedback, including improved solar arrays for faster charging and faster recycling. Better cooling allows for longer imaging at a time, more flexible positioning arrays, which means it can switch targets faster in response to customer needs, and higher bandwidth downlinks, which means it can transfer more data than any other SAR system of a commercial company of the same size.
The upgrade allows Capella Space to sign contracts with key U.S. government clients, including the U.S. Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Agency (NRO). The technology is ready to be incorporated into Capella’s six commercial satellites, which will begin operations in March.