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The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded a small business innovative research (SBIR) phase II contract to Capella Space to adapt its commercial persistent space radar to meet military requirements.

The contract involves the application of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to the virtual reality software used by the USAF.

Integration of SAR data will enable the service to simulate potential adversary scenarios and support missile defence.

It will also provide predictive intelligence capability to predict foreign threats.

Under the SBIR contract, Capella will also provide the USAF with an analytics service to enable object identification and change detection capabilities.

The software tool will provide automatic insights from satellite data.

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USAF Space and Missile Systems Center commander lieutenant general John Thompson said: “The US Air Force is always working to maintain our leadership as a global technology innovator, and this contract is a testament to that commitment.”

According to Capella, the company’s satellites gather imagery and capture amplitude to extract information such as material properties, elevation, changes and movements.

Persistent global surveillance capability provides situational awareness for the protection of military forces.

Capella is planning to launch a 36-satellite constellation to provide on-demand SAR imagery to users.

The constellation will support the development of a new space imaging tool to meet commercial and security requirements.

The small satellites will capture and provide 0.5m resolution SAR data to the USAF and other users.

Capella Space Government Services vice-president Dan Brophy said: “Capella will work alongside the US Air Force to foster collaboration and deliver a product that best suits their mission needs.

“Timely SAR data that presents changes on Earth holds tremendous military value, and we will make adaptations to meet unique military requirements. Together with the airforce, we will define the applications for this data in its hybrid, military and commercial space architecture.”