Earth observation startup Capella Space will launch a seven satellite constellation in 2020

Capella Space is all set to begin commercial operations in 2020, with the launch of seven satellites that will provide synthetic aperture radar (SAR)-based imaging, which will provide its clients with extremely high-resolution imaging of Earth with extremely fast turnaround time, more power-efficient operation and higher quality than is currently available on the market from other small satellite-based solutions.

Backed by DCVC and Spark Capital, Capella says it has all the funding it needs to get its seven satellites launched and operational next year. The startup has also locked in deals with various U.S. government clients, including one with the U.S. Air Force. Its technology is a natural fit for defense applications, since it can capture high resolution data not only with greater quality than competitors, but also for longer spans – it can provide up to 10 minutes of active image capture per orbital path, which the company says is around 5x what its closest competitor can provide due to power consumption limitations.

In addition to government clients, Capella also has signed partnerships with key players in data delivery and ground-based relay, including Inmarsat, Addvalue and AWS. These companies and the capabilities they provide will allow Capella to essentially offer real-time satellite tasking, which means that when a client asks it to point its imaging array at a specific location, that can do that immediately, “virtually latency free,” something it says it is unique in offering across the Easy observation industry. That’s an incredible competitive advantage – and it also says it’ll be able to actually collect and provide the resulting imaging from the satellites in as little as 30 minutes on average, which is also way below the industry average.

All told, Capella has lined up eight customers over the course of this past year, and they span a range of industries including not just defense, but also insurance, disaster relief, energy/oil and gas, urban development and maritime operations.