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Payam Banazadeh, the co-founder and CEO of Capella Space (, shines some light on the important topic of satellite surveillance. Banazadeh’s company, Capella Space, is a venture-backed Silicon Valley company that builds satellites capable of imaging earth day and night, in all weather and light conditions. Banazadeh was named to the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2017 and Capella Space has been touted by The New York Times, Bloomberg, and Inc. as one of the top-25 disruptive companies in the world. Banazadeh graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in aerospace engineering from The University of Texas at Austin.

During his time at UT, he received the Texas Outstanding Scholar & Leader Award for his formidable academic skills, performance, and exceptional leadership. Additionally, he holds a graduate business degree from Stanford University. Banazadeh received the NASA Mariner Award for his work on two multi-million dollar missions and the prestigious NASA Discovery Award for outstanding achievement in the formulation of novel concepts for the development of projects for NASA.

Banazadeh co-founded Capella Space with William Woods with the common goal of developing a means to monitor the planet more accurately and efficiently from space, which could have far-reaching applications for multiple industries. He discusses the frustration they shared as the world watched the unsuccessful search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 on live TV. Banazadeh and Woods collectively felt that there should be a better way to monitor the planet, and track objects such as airline flights, etc. He discusses some of their initial findings, reasons behind the ineffectiveness of satellites, such as satellites’ inability to monitor in a comprehensive manner during cloudiness or darkness.

He describes how traditional satellites utilize optical imaging, which cannot see through either—clouds or darkness. Capella Space’s satellites use Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) to achieve their excellent capabilities. SAR is a type of radar that can create 2D or 3D images of objects, such as landscapes, and it uses the motion of the radar antenna over a specific region to provide a sharper spatial resolution than traditional beam-scanning radars. Clouds and nighttime are no longer an issue, or a problem, with Capella Space’s advanced technological satellites.

Banazadeh gives a detailed explanation of the power and energy necessary to bounce satellite signals with the SAR system, and how Capella Space’s satellites inhabit lower orbits to facilitate the power/energy and distance issues. He provides details on the measurements and imagery that exist with the SAR-based satellites versus traditional satellite technology that has been utilized in the past. He talks about the minute details that are visible with their company’s offerings in the satellite technology arena, such as reflectivity, texture, and moisture information that is incredibly helpful for applications in many industries.

Banazadeh states that their strategy is not to observe the entire globe but to look at important, key areas globally where changes are occurring, changes that could severely impact security and industry. Capella Space’s satellites can identify and classify most objects that are one meter or larger in size and can be accessed anywhere in the globe at any time, day or night. Additionally, they provide new imagery hourly and can easily penetrate clouds, fog, pollution, haze, and nearly every atmospheric condition. And with penetration and accuracy at such a high level, it’s clear why Capella Space is attracting attention and praise for their outstanding leadership in global surveillance.

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