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Capella, Rocket Lab to Launch SAR Satellite to Mid-Inclination

By Rachel Jewett | March 5, 2020

      A rendering of Capella’s new satellite design. Photo: Capella Space

      Capella Space has signed a deal with Rocket Lab to launch one of the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites in its Whitney Constellation, calling it the first-ever SAR satellite to deliver commercial data into a mid-inclination orbit. 

      The mission will launch mid-2020 on an Electron launch vehicle from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula. Capella Space will be the primary payload on the Electron launch vehicle, allowing Capella to select the specific orbit and launch timeline. Capella Space said the the satellite positioning to a 45 degree inclination will maximize coverage over the Middle East, Korea, Japan, South East Asia, Africa, and the U.S. Christian Lenz, Capella Space vice president of Engineering, said the mid-inclination orbit is in response to customer needs. 

      “At Capella Space, we help our customers solve some of the world’s biggest and most complex problems – from climate change to infrastructure monitoring – using on-demand, accurate Earth observation data,” said Payam Banazadeh, CEO of Capella Space. “Launching our first Whitney satellite on a dedicated Rocket Lab mission allows us to stay in control of our orbit and focus on our goal to deliver customer-focused solutions in a timely manner.” 

      Capella Space, a San Francisco-based company, aims to offer hourly coverage of every point on Earth, rendered in sub-meter resolution, and to help customers interpret that data with an in-house platform. The company also plans to launch its first commercial satellite, named Sequoia, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in late March.