Capella Space to replace founder and CEO Payam Banazadeh

Synthetic aperture radar startup Capella Space is replacing founder Payam Banazadeh with a new CEO who will start at the end of the month, the company said Tuesday morning.

He will be replaced by aerospace executive Frank Backes, who will assume the role on October 23. Banazadeh will continue to serve on Capella’s board. Backes previously held roles as senior VP at Kratos Defense and Security Solutions’ federal arm and CEO of Braxton Science and Technology Group.

“Effective October 23rd, I will be stepping down from my role as Capella’s CEO, passing the torch to an exceptional leader, Frank Backes, whom we just hired after conducting an extensive search,” Banazadeh said in a blog post on the transition.

The choice to install Backes in the CEO position suggests that Capella is looking to expand its work with government and defense, one of the biggest buyers of SAR imagery. In a statement on the new appointment, the company highlighted Backes work with federal partners: “Backes brings to Capella Space a deep understanding of the government and defense markets and has proven experience in growing public sector, commercial, and international business.”

Banazadeh founded the imaging startup in 2016 when he was just 24. Since then, the company has gone on to raise more than $250 million and pioneered many firsts in commercial synthetic aperture radar (SAR), including launching the first American SAR satellite and capturing the then-highest-ever resolution SAR image from space in 2020.