Alpha Insights of Toronto plans to build dual-band synthetic aperture radar satellites capable of producing imagery with a resolution of 40 centimeters. Credit: Alpha Insights

SAN FRANCISCO – Another synthetic aperture radar (SAR) startup has emerged.

Entrepreneur Scott Larson, who co-founded Urthecast and Helios Wire, is leading Alpha Insights, a Toronto company established in 2020 to acquire the SAR assets of Urthecast, which filed for protection from creditors in 2020 to avoid bankruptcy.

“It’s truly world class X- and L-band SAR and it’s generations ahead of anything else commercially available,” Larson, Alpha Insights CEO, told SpaceNews.

Alpha Insights announced a seed investment Feb. 10 from Prime Movers Lab, a venture capital fund focused on scientific startups. With the undisclosed level of seed funding, Alpha Insights plans to expand its engineering staff and prepare for spaceflight.

Alpha Insights’ SAR will provide “wide-area coverage but also a ultra-high resolution SAR image at 0.40 meters,” according to the news release. In addition, the company plans to rely on proprietary artificial intelligence and cueing to quickly identify and analyze imagery and data, the news release added.

“We are thrilled to be leading Alpha Insights’ seed funding round,” Anton Brevde, Prime Movers Lab partners, said in a statement. “As proponents of the newspace market and the future space economy, we have been closely tracking SAR innovation, and we believe that Alpha Insights’ approach and technology will be a game changer for Earth observation.”

Urthecast invested more than $65 million in the X- and L-band SAR technology to date, Larson said.

By combining X- and L-bands, Alpha Insights plans to offer “a rich dataset that can not only image through clouds and at night, but also through trees, foliage and even into biomass,” according to the news release. The company sees applications for its imagery and data in agriculture, environmental study, security, military, insurance, infrastructure, logistics and market analysis.

Larson co-founded UrtheCast in 2010 with his brother Wade Larson. Scott Larson also co-founded Helios Wire in 2016, after stepping down as CEO of UrtheCast. In 2019, EchoStar paid $26 million to acquire Helios Wire. Prior to establishing Alpha Insights, Larson served as interim president of Draganfly, a Canadian drone manufacturer.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...