Payam Banazadeh Makes Headway with SAR

Payam Banazadeh is an aerospace engineer that received his B.A in Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. He also attended Stanford University for a master’s in Business & Management to prepare himself for the technical aspects of running a business. His aerospace experience comes from his tenure at NASA, where he started as a Mission Formulation Intern at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Payam Banazadeh worked his way up through numerous roles before landing a position as Lead Project System Engineer. His role centered around his ability to create new missions and concepts as well as managing complex small satellite systems.

He conceived the idea of Capella Space during his time at Stanford. The tragedy of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 showed that there was a need for a system that closely monitored the planet’s surface for immediate changes. This belief led to Payam Banazadeh and his partner creating a constellation of satellites tasked with monitoring the Earth and providing the observational data. These satellites would better understand the shifts across the globe including environmental changes, food shortages and infrastructure usage.

Originally, the planet was monitored through optical satellites, taking in light similar to a camera lens. Payam Banazadeh believed SAR, or Synthetic Aperture Radar, was a significant advancement because it could render day- and nighttime images. SAR is also capable of seeing through cloud cover, another obstacle that prohibits optical satellites. SAR satellites are generally bulky as well as costly to build and maintain. There would also need to be a full constellation of the devices to provide coverage for the Earth. Payam Banazadeh designed a smaller SAR satellite that could be easily deployed into space. This is an example of his ability to innovate around existing technologies, finding new and useful applications as a result.