Maxar and Umbra Partner to Deliver Cutting-Edge Radar Imagery for Earth Intelligence

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Remote sensing giant Maxar Technologies has partnered with satellite imagery start-up Umbra to gain exclusive access to their radar imaging constellation.

The deal will allow Maxar to integrate Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data into their Earth intelligence products and services.

The demand for SAR remote sensing is rising due to its ability to capture images at night, through cloud cover, smoke, rain, and other conditions that can impair traditional optical satellites. While Maxar has agreements with other third-party SAR providers, it partnered with Umbra because the company’s high-resolution SAR is better suited to Maxar’s high-resolution optical imagery.

David Langan, Umbra’s co-founder and CEO, said the company was “thrilled to partner with Maxar and to be chosen as their first-ever SAR dedicated access partner.”

According to Tony Frazier, the head of Maxar’s public sector Earth intelligence, “Since the start of the Ukraine crisis, we’ve seen a high demand for multi-source capabilities. And especially a demand for integrating high-resolution SAR with our optical capabilities.”

The partnership will allow Maxar to directly task Umbra’s satellites and offer combined optical-SAR products by the second quarter of 2023. Umbra, based in Santa Barbara, California, currently has five satellites in orbit and plans to launch a total of 24. Maxar operates a fleet of four high-resolution imaging satellites and is the primary commercial supplier of satellite imagery to the United States government.

Frazier said the companies are “having conversations about ways to integrate future capabilities, and we do see a lot of opportunity to look at multiple sources of data.”

According to Gabe Dominocielo, Umbra’s co-founder, and president, the deal will “energize commercial SAR utilization worldwide and support Umbra’s ambitions of building and growing a robust commercial business case.” Frazier added that intelligence agencies and military commands increasingly require multi-source intelligence to track developments and trends in different regions worldwide, and “they need the data regardless of whether it’s sunny or cloudy over a location.”

The non-exclusive agreement is expected to extend over several years, energizing the commercial SAR market and supporting Umbra’s growth ambitions. The partnership promises to deliver cutting-edge, cloud-resistant, and high-quality imagery products to customers globally, further strengthening Maxar’s position as the primary supplier of commercial satellite imagery to the US government.