Capella Space, an aerospace company that is setting out to provide on-demand imagery of Earth from space using small satellites, has closed a $19 million series B round of funding from Spark Capital and DCVC (Data Collective).
Founded out of Palo Alto, California in 2016, Capella Space is scheduled to launch its inaugural Earth observation satellite in November, a test that will be followed by full operational launches of 36 satellites next year. The satellites will be launched using SpaceX rockets, and the company plans to beam back fresh imagery every hour of the day.
Capella’s are not ordinary satellites. They use Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) that can see through all light and weather conditions, meaning that people on Earth can get up-to-date imagery of the planet day and night, regardless of the conditions. Roughly the size of a backpack before launch, a Capella satellite eventually unfolds an antenna that takes its size to around 100 square feet.
“We designed Capella’s constellation around a unique combination of spacecraft size, resolution, and coverage to crack the code for customers, allowing them to reliably buy images they need at a lower cost,” said Capella Space founder and CEO Payam Banazadeh.
The core selling point of Capella’s satellites is their price and size compared to other SAR satellites on the market — the company said they are 30 times smaller. Plus, they promise near real-time image deliveries, while others can take days.
Use cases will vary, but examples include search and rescue missions, identifying illegal fishing, city planning, or perhaps even tracking North Korean missiles.
“We’ve already lined up tens of millions of dollars in presale commitments from commercial and government customers, and are committed to unlocking new possibilities for Earth imagery to inform decision-making on the ground,” Banazadeh added.
Prior to now, Capella Space had raised around $15 million in funding, the bulk of which was raised last year in a series A round led by Spark Capital. Having another chunk of change in the bank will go some way toward funding the company’s operational launches next year.
“The Capella constellation is going to transform an industry reliant on billion-dollar government satellites to networks of satellites the size of backpacks with unique sensor capabilities not seen before,” added Spark Capital’s Nabeel Hyatt.