Capella raises $97 million to expand radar constellation

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SAN FRANCISCO – Capella Space raised $97 million in a Series C investment round led by NightDragon. Existing Capella investors Data Collective Venture Capital and Cota Capital also participated in the funding round announced April 25.

With the additional funding, Capella will expand its seven-satellite constellation, enhance its Capella Console data platform and expand its staff to meet growing demand for synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery and data.

“If we could have another 10 satellites over certain regions, we would take it,” Payam Banazadeh, Capella Space founder and CEO, told SpaceNews. “We’ve doubled our revenue in the last 12 months and we expect to triple it in the next 12 months. This cash allows us to continue that momentum.”

Since Capella was founded in 2016, the San Francisco-based company has raised a total of $190 million for its campaign to offer customers frequent and timely high-resolution SAR imagery through the Capella Console. The company unveiled three products April 14 to automate tasking of SAR satellites: Vessel Detection, Change Detection and Global Change Monitoring.

“We’re not trying to become the analytics company for SAR, but we are selectively rolling out some analytics products,” Banazadeh said.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the ability of SAR constellations operated by companies including Capella to gather imagery day and night as well as through clouds, fog, smoke and rain.

The conflict has shown “the power of SAR because obviously the invasion is not stopping because of the weather or night,” Banazadeh said. “We are looking at Ukraine many times per day and night. I think we are providing the largest amount of SAR in this conflict.”

Capella currently employs about 160 people and relies heavily on automation to keep a lid on its employee head count.

“We are going to grow more, especially with this financing we’ll continue hiring,” Banazadeh said.

Capella also is developing a new generation of satellites to acquire higher resolution imagery. Banazadeh said the company is not yet ready to share details concerning the enhanced capabilities of the company’s next generation of satellites.

“The past few months have shown us the importance of leveraging strong commercial companies like Capella to provide the technology and teams to help our government and allies monitor areas of conflict,” Ken Gonzalez, NightDragon managing director, said in a statement. “We are proud to support this mission through our investment and look forward to helping the Capella team expand their potential use cases and maximize on the immense innovation and market potential in front of them.”

Since Capella began commercial sales of SAR imagery and data in early 2021, the company and the overall SAR market have experienced incredible growth, Banazadeh said. “I’m excited for our next phase of growth and the opportunity to bring even more innovation and accessibility to the Earth observation industry,” he added in a statement.

Matt Ocko, DCVC co-founder and managing partner, said in a statement, “DCVC was the first to invest in Capella because we saw Capella’s transformational power to make the world transparent for the ‘good guys’, where every organization has access to powerful satellite imaging tools for critical decisions involving disaster relief, land planning, or monitoring our critical infrastructure.”