Capella Space has announced that the company is one step closer to making their mission vision a reality — the firm is partnering with Rocket Lab to launch Sequoia, the first, publicly available satellite in the company’s planned constellation — the two-week launch window opens on August 26, 2020.
The company is especially proud of the team for achieving this milestone in spite of the challenges of COVID-19. The pandemic has impacted much of the economy, and the space industry is no exception. COVID-19 has affected Capella Space’s supplier network as well as the initial launch plans and required the satellite team to work in shifts in reduced group sizes. However, despite all the challenges, the team was able to get Sequoia across the world to the Rocket Lab launch site in New Zealand and is also on track for manufacturing the rest of the constellation as the other launches are approaching.
Sequoia is a 100 kg class smallsat and will be positioned in a 45-degree inclination. This mid-inclination allows the company to give customers immediate access to rapid coverage of important regions, including the Middle East, Korea, Japan, Europe, South East Asia, Africa, and the U.S. Like all of the Capella satellites, Sequoia will be able to see through clouds and in the dark and detect sub-0.5 meter changes on Earth’s surface. When fully deployed, this satellite constellation will offer hourly coverage of every point on Earth.
Capella Space worked with Rocket Lab to name this mission “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Optical,” a reference to the firm’s SAR satellite technology, which overcomes the limits of the optical imagery used in other commercial satellites. Unlike optical, SAR can see through clouds, in all weather conditions and even at night. The Capella Space team voted on the mission name in June, ultimately choosing it as a nod to this satellite technology and the infamous advertisement campaign for “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.”
This launch marks a significant milestone for Capella and the company is looking forward to the next few weeks and days as preparations continue for the launch.