Payam Banazadeh and Capella Space Open Commercial Operations

Payam Banazadeh and Capella Space Open Commercial Operations

Those who have been following the commercial use of space already know that we’re in an incredibly exciting time in the field’s growth. More than ever before, companies across the globe are providing us with new and innovative ways to utilize space in order to serve a variety of needs here on Earth. Now, Payam Banazadeh, CEO and founder of Capella Space, has announced that his company has reached a historic milestone. It has now opened its commercial operations, meaning that its satellite imagery will be available to customers around the world. Read on to understand what that means and the impact it is poised to have.

Company background

To understand the significance of this new announcement from Payam Banazadeh and his team, it’s first important to understand what the company’s work is all about. To do so, we’ll need to take a look at the world of satellite imaging and the evolution it’s currently undergoing.

Traditionally, satellite imaging was conducted through the use of optical imaging satellites. These satellites function in a similar way to a photographic camera — relying on the collection of external light sources, namely the Sun, for their operation. While these satellites have been integrated into a variety of applications, such as mapping software, they also have some serious limitations that interfere with their ability to provide continuous and reliable imaging data. Primarily, the usefulness of these satellites can break down when an image of the dark side of the Earth is required, or when tasked with imaging a portion of the planet’s surface that’s obscured by cloud cover. In both of these cases, a traditional optical satellite is practically useless.

That’s one of the underlying reasons behind the creation of Capella Space. To address the shortcomings of optical imaging tech, the company has turned to another technology known as Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). SAR satellites emit their own energy that is then reflected off the Earth’s surface and collected by a receiver. The energy can penetrate cloud cover and functions the same regardless of time of day. That means that these satellites can be much better suited for applications that require imaging on a continuous basis or under conditions in which an optical imaging satellite would be of little use.

Lead up to announcement

One of the major goals of the CEO’s company has been to democratize the use of satellite data. It has championed a vision of the world where conservationists, economists, government officials, and many more would all have access to important information about changing surface conditions on our planet. The recent announcement about the launch of commercial operations is helping to transform that idea into a reality but before we analyze just what that means, we should first look to the process that has led up to this moment.

The company was founded in 2016 and was partially inspired by the founder’s conviction that the tragedy of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 should not be repeated. After search and rescue teams were unable to locate the missing flight, the entrepreneur felt there was a need for a continuous and accurate planetary monitoring system. In the years since, he has worked to create his company, build out its capacity, garner interest from investors, and partner with early adopters in order to bring that idea to life.

A major milestone was reached in August when the company launched its satellite, Capella-2, making it the first American SAR operator. Since that time, the company has been calibrating its capabilities, testing features, and rolling out its collaboration with global sales partners. After testing with thousands of images and countless adjustments and improvements, the technology is finally ready for its public launch.

Beginning commercial operations

The launch of the company’s commercial operations means that customers around the world will now be able to request satellite imagery through both direct sales and the company’s reseller partner network. The reseller partner network encompasses more than 40 organizations around the world to which customers can go to make imaging requests. The network opens the company’s operations to an international market and allows a broader customer base to access the new and exciting technology.

Customers can also place on-demand tasking orders in the company’s self-service web application. The application represents a first in the SAR industry, allowing customers to quickly and easily navigate an automated system for placing orders. The nature of the system allows for customer request fulfillment in a matter of hours, rather than the days it takes most other satellite companies to fill requests. It also allows for a marked security improvement over other satellite request systems. This is because customers can submit their requests without concern about a human agent reading the request prior to fulfillment. Instead, tasking requests can be relayed to the company’s anonymous and secure rapid tasking system.

Expansion in use

The company has already shown plenty of potential for its technology in the months leading up to the above announcement. Test images have showcased the satellite’s ability to image with incredibly precise resolution — as high as 50cm x 50cm — and continuously monitor surface-level events as they’ve unfolded, day or night. This work has already provided benefits to government defense and intelligence agencies, who have worked with the company as early adopters.

Now, as the company opens its doors to the general public, it anticipates a significant expansion in use. Potential use cases have been cited as being of benefit to the field of transportation logistics and environmental conservation efforts — two areas where timely data about ground conditions can be vital to create informed action. Though these are likely to be a focus of general public usage moving forward, this is also a time for the company to let the public voice its opinion through actual use cases, marking an interesting new era in its development.

While the commercial space field has been unfolding for some time now, the recent announcement by Payam Banazadeh and Capella Space serves to showcase the rapid increase in our current technological capabilities. By opening the door to its groundbreaking SAR satellite technology, the company is helping to usher in an unprecedented democratization of imaging data. Keep an eye on the company’s efforts moving forward to see how this new phase in its institutional history will play out and influence other exciting developments in the near future.

The Role of Vision In Motivating Employees & Being A Great Leader

The Role of Vision In Motivating Employees & Being A Great Leader

If you have ever seen the hit TV show Shark Tank, then you know that it is a great resource for entrepreneurs to learn how to effectively run a business. People such as Mark Cuban and Daymond John provide great insights on how to fund your start up and how to be a great leader. Yet with all of these experts showing entrepreneurs what it takes to lead, why do so many still struggle with this skill?

We are often told that vision is an essential feature of great leadership. But what is leadership vision, how do you develop one ,and what role does it play in business success?

The best place to start this discussion is by exploring how businesses become successful. Business success does not always depend on vision. Suppose you are a creative entrepreneur or inventor and you develop a desirable set of products that are in great demand. 

According to the Coaching Institute, your business success may be mainly a function of your ability to keep up with demand and to produce your products as efficiently and profitably as possible. In this case, no vision is necessary. Your business hit the ground running and your employees couldn’t be more motivated.

This suggests two factors that determine when a leadership vision may be useful: (1) when your business is struggling or needs to change its ways to be successful or (2) when employees are not very motivated.

The Essence of Leadership Vision

To be effective, a vision must motivate employees. Putting the first man on the moon by the end of the 1960’s was John F. Kennedy’s vision and it is one of the most famous examples of an effective leadership vision. “To motivate employees, a vision might be expressed in a great speech by its leader, but it doesn’t have to be” suggests John Rogan of Motivational Speaker. 

The vision to put the first man on the moon would have been motivational to the engineers and scientists who made it happen no matter how the vision was expressed. It was motivational for two reasons: it gave them a very concrete, time-related target and it was an exciting challenge.

If you own a car rental company, creating a motivational vision would be harder. How much more can such a business improve customer service and lower costs? If you are already in the top 3 in this industry, how much higher can you go? The most motivational vision for such a business might be to make it to number one over the next 3 years. If your vision isn’t time-related, it’s hard to get excited about it, mainly because there’s no sense of urgency to do anything new.

A leadership vision is essentially a goal or target, but not just any old target. Improving your business’s profits by 10% by the end of next year is a worthy goal but it couldn’t be called visionary because it’s not very exciting. A vision is much easier to formulate in a business that is struggling or nowhere near the top in its market. Suppose you run a business that develops similar products to Apple Computers but are not really visible at all in this market. A vision to beat Apple in 5 years would be a huge challenge and either motivational or just too scary to even contemplate.

A vision to make a laptop for under $100 so that more people in developing countries could afford one is inspirational. So is the vision to make high speed internet access available for everyone in a certain region by a certain date.

Does your Business Need a Vision?

Before you develop a leadership vision for your business, take a hard look at whether you need one. The most important consideration is whether you need to move your business to a different place as, for example, Intel did when its chip business, its main source of revenue in the company’s early days, started to fail and they decided they needed to switch their focus and major on microprocessors. The other major question to look at is employee motivation. Are your employees already highly motivated? If so, how much more would a vision motivate them? In this case, a vision would only be necessary if you wanted to move in a new direction.

Developing a Vision

If you dream up a compelling vision on your own, fine. But if you really want to motivate employees with your vision, you should engage them fully in developing the new vision. This is precisely what the level 5 leaders described by Jim Collins in Good to Great did. The meaning of his slogan – first who then what – means that the CEOs he studied got their best people into a room and grilled them relentlessly until a new strategy or vision emerged. For Collins, level 4 leaders develop and promote their own visions which could fail to really engage those who have to make it happen.