DENVER – Radar imaging startup PredaSAR is preparing to deploy its first satellite on the SpaceX Transporter 6 rideshare, projected to launch in October.
The company is planning a constellation of 96 radar satellites “to be fully deployed by the end of 2026,” Michael Moran, senior vice president of defense and intelligence systems at Terran Orbital Corp., told SpaceNews.
“It’s a substantial increase in capability” from the company’s previous goal of just 48 satellites, he said. Satellite manufacturer Terran Orbital is PredaSAR’s parent company.
Founded in 2019, PredaSAR will be joining the competitive market for synthetic aperture radar (SAR), which is now gaining attention as a growing number of commercial SAR satellites collect imagery over Ukraine. Unlike visible spectrum imagery, SAR penetrates clouds, bad weather and can see at night. This capability is useful when monitoring Ukraine which is covered by clouds most of the time, Moran noted.
“People want 24/7 all weather .You can’t wait until it’s sunny to have an answer,” he said.
“We see that the demand signal for SAR has really spiked,” said Moran. A key target customer for PredaSAR is the National Reconnaissance Office, which traditionally has not purchased commercial radar data but is now looking to establish relationships with several providers.
Unlike other SAR operators that use very small satellites, PredaSAR’s owner Terran Orbital is building larger spacecraft of about 350 to 400 kilograms.
“This larger relative size gives us a host of advantages including substantial power generation and storage capability for the power-hungry mission of an advanced radar platform,” said Moran. Terran Orbital also is developing the radar payloads in house.
The company plans to split the constellation into sun-synchronous and mid-inclination orbit satellites in order to get high revisit rates over areas of the world of increasing interest like Ukraine.
Moran noted that up until recently, only the U.S. government had mature space-based radar products for national security use and now the commercial industry is showing sophisticated capabilities.
He credited organizations like the Defense Innovation Unit that five years ago started working with commercial SAR vendors. DIU was an early pilot customer of Capella Space which is now operating a seven-satellite SAR constellation.