Amy Hopkins, ex Boeing Phantom Works Strategy Director, has been appointed first general manager and vice president of the United States Government Services by Capella Space, a synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite operator.
Amy has direct knowledge as both a tactical user and a policymaker, according to Payam Banazadeh, founder and the chief executive officer of the Capella company. “She has a thorough understanding of the customer’s problems and how we can assist them in gaining more intelligence, and also operational, planning, as well as policy value.”
Hopkins has worked for the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, the Defense Intelligence Agency, Northrop Grumman, US Pacific Command and, the Joint Chiefs of Staff throughout the last two decades.
Hopkins got her to start with SAR when she was assigned to Camp Bondsteel, the primary US Army station in Kosovo for the NATO-steered international peacekeeping mission. Hopkins witnessed “the necessity for all-weather, day as well night SAR to assist military operations” as a civilian intelligence officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency assisting the 1st Armored Division.
But it wasn’t until she worked for the US Pacific Command in Hawaii that she became a SAR evangelist. “The threat to the nation’s security posed by large global players places a priority on all-weather, whether day and night coverage,” Hopkins stated via email. “Since my experience in military activities supports, the demand for such decision-level data has certainly grown, and I don’t see an end in sight.”
Based in San Francisco, Capella uses a constellation of 5 tiny satellites in the low Earth orbit (LEO) to collect SAR imagery and data. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency, the United States Air Force, United States Navy, and the United States Space Force have all awarded the company contracts.
Stosh Kowalski, a retired US Air Force officer, has been designated Capella’s government projects manager. According to Kowalski’s LinkedIn profile, he “served on launch groups for upwards of 40 rockets for USAF as well as National Reconnaissance Office,” as well as assisting with the initial operational capability of a satellite processing center valued at $470 million.
Capella intends to launch a constellation of tiny radar satellites to offer the US government and commercial clients routinely updated imagery. Capella is constructing and launching 7 “Whitney-class” satellites to offer high-resolution radar images. The first of the group, Sequoia, debuted in August 2020. On January 24, 2021, 2 additional Whitney satellites were deployed into the polar sun-synchronous orbit on a SpaceX rideshare mission, with two more scheduled to launch soon. Capella will examine demand after the 7 Whitney-class satellites are launched to decide how many more satellites will be launched.