US-based information services provider Capella Space has revealed a new synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite design.
The new design features several advanced technologies that will help meet the demand for sub-0.5m very high-resolution imagery of Earth observation data.
The enhancements include a 3.5m deployed mesh-based reflector antenna with high-power RADAR, a 400W solar array, advanced thermal management systems, large reaction wheels, Staring spotlight image mode, a high average data rate downlink of 1.2Gbps and a secure encrypted two-way link with Inmarsat.
The unveiling follows comprehensive on-orbit testing of the re-engineered design with the company’s first testbed satellite Denali, as well as ground-based testing and extensive customer feedback.
Capella Space engineering vice-president Christian Lenz said: “The innovations packed into our small satellite make Capella the first and only SAR provider to provide real-time tasking and capture of sub-0.5m very high-quality imagery anywhere on Earth at any time.
“This is a game-changer for a variety of industries from monitoring military threats to assessing crop yields in agriculture to coordinating disaster response.”
The company has secured deals from various divisions of the US Government, including the US Air Force and National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
Capella will leverage the new design in its upcoming six commercial satellites, named the ‘Whitney’ constellation.
The first of them, Sequoia, has completed system-level tests and is expected to launch in March 2020.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has licenced Capella’s 36 small satellite constellation for SAR commercial imagery globally.
In August 2019, Capella Space partnered with SpaceNet to expand the latter’s existing geospatial open-source research to a new data type, SAR.