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Satnews Daily
March 6th, 2020

Rocket Lab to Launch Capella Space's First SAR Satellite

Rocket Lab has inked a deal to launch a dedicated mission for Capella Space, an aerospace and information services company that provides Earth observation data on demand.

Capella Space and Rocket Lab will launch the first synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite that delivers commercial data into a mid-inclination orbit to optimize hotspot monitoring of key regions in the world.

A Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle on its launch pad. Photo is courtesy of the company.

Launching later this year, the mission will loft the first satellite of Capella Space’s Whitney constellation on an Electron launch vehicle from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. By positioning the satellite to a 45 degree inclination, Capella Space will maximize coverage over important areas such as the Middle East, Korea, Japan, South East Asia, Africa and the U.S.

This launch paves the way for reliable and persistent imagery of anywhere on the globe, day or night, and in any weather conditions. Capella’s space-based radar can detect sub-0.5 meter changes on the surface of the Earth, providing insights and data that can be used for security, agricultural and infrastructure monitoring, as well as disaster response and recovery.

Capella Space SAR smallsat to Deliver high resolution, on-demand EO data. Artistic rendition is courtesy of the company.

Capella Space will be the primary payload on the Electron launch vehicle, enabling Capella to select a specific orbit and launch timeline to meet its customer needs in terms of coverage, revisit and image quality.

While the Capella Space mission is scheduled for mid-2020, Rocket Lab’s next Electron launch will be on the pad at Launch Complex 1 in late March. Details of the next mission and customer will be released in the coming week.

Payam Banazadeh, CEO of Capella Space, said the company helps 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. Launching the firm's first Whitney satellite on a dedicated Rocket Lab mission allows Capella Space to stay in control of the firm's orbit and focus on the goal of delivering customer-focused solutions in a timely manner.

Rocket Lab Founder and CEO, Peter Beck, added that this dedicated launch solution will get Capella Space on-orbit faster, enabling them to focus on their core mission – providing reliable, up to the hour imagery data to inform everyday decisions on Earth. By launching on Electron, the team at Capella are in control of their mission every step of the way. The ability to book a launch quickly, have control over launch timing and select an exact orbit puts customers like Capella in the driver’s seat as they build out their constellations how and when they want to.