PredaSAR is in discussions to launch up to 48 small satellites with SpaceX, having signed a contract to launch one satellite on a Falcon 9 rideshare mission. Credit: SpaceX.

WASHINGTON — Synthetic aperture radar startup PredaSAR has signed a contract to launch a small satellite with SpaceX, and is in discussions to launch its entire first constellation with the company, PredaSAR co-founder Marc Bell, said Aug 4. 

In an interview, Bell said PredaSAR’s first satellite is scheduled to launch on a SpaceX rideshare mission in the spring of 2021. PredaSAR and SpaceX have not yet finalized if the satellite will launch on one of SpaceX’s Starlink Falcon 9 missions, or a separate rideshare launch, he said. 

SpaceX will likely receive additional launch orders from PredaSAR covering the company’s initial constellation of 48 radar satellites, Bell said. 

“We agreed to do one and we will negotiate the rest later,” Bell said. “We would like to work with SpaceX on the rest of them, and I’m sure we’ll come to an agreement in the near future.”

Bell declined to say when PredaSAR hopes to have all 48 satellites in orbit, or to state the resolution of the constellation. The company has more satellites beyond the initial 48 planned, and will have a resolution well below one meter, he said. 

Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems is building the PredaSAR constellation and providing launcher integration services. Tyvak and PredaSAR are both owned by Terran Orbital of Irvine, California. PredaSAR raised $25 million, announced in March, to fund its constellation of satellites to provide imagery for military and commercial users. 

SpaceX vice president of commercial sales Tom Ochinero said the company is “proud PredaSAR selected SpaceX as its launch provider for this very important mission.”

“For launch of the first satellite of its constellation, PredaSAR sought a reliable and schedule-certain ride on a rocket with a demonstrated record of executing launches at a high cadence,” he said in a news release. 

Caleb Henry is a former SpaceNews staff writer covering satellites, telecom and launch. He previously worked for Via Satellite and NewSpace Global.He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science along with a minor in astronomy from...