NOAA Awards Commercial Space Weather Pilot Contracts

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — NOAA awarded three Commercial Weather Data Pilot (CWDP) space weather contracts to GeoOptics Inc. (Pasadena, CA), Space Sciences and Engineering LLC, dba PlanetiQ (Golden, CO), and Spire Global Subsidiary, Inc (San Francisco, CA).

NOAA’s Commercial Data Program (CDP) supports CWDP studies to demonstrate the quality and impact of commercial data on NOAA’s weather forecast models. These contract awards constitute the next round of NOAA’s CWDP studies with a particular focus on space weather data.

GeoOptics, PlanetiQ and Spire will provide near real-time radio occultation measurements from Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receivers that will enable NOAA to derive ionospheric products that meet the current and anticipated needs of operational space weather models and applications.

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SpaceX Launches 40 Satellites into Space

Falcon9 Transporter-4 launch. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by David Bullock
Staff Writer

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla., April 1, 2022 — A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched 40 payloads as part of the company’s Transporter-4 dedicated smallsat rideshare mission.

The rocket launched into a sun-synchronous orbit at 12:24 p.m. EDT. The mission manifest included the first satellite orbited by Pixxel of India, Kleos Space’s Patrol Mission, and 12 Spacebee communications satellites. A list of payloads is below.

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Launch 2020: U.S. Reclaimed Top Spot, Flew Astronauts Again from American Soil

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The United States reclaimed the top spot in launches from China last year as NASA astronauts flew into orbit from American soil for the first time in nearly nine years, SpaceX deployed the world’s first satellite mega-constellation with reused rockets, and two new launchers debuted with less than stellar results.

American companies conducted 44 launches in 2020, with 40 successes and four failures. Bryce Tech reports that U.S. companies accounted for 32 of the 41 commercial launches conducted last year. The majority of those flights were conducted by SpaceX, which launched 25 orbital missions.

China came in second with a record of 35 successful launches and four failures. The 39 launch attempts tied that nation’s previous record for flights during a calendar year.

Let’s take a closer look at what U.S. companies achieved last year.

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Redwire Selected As Solar Array Supplier for PlanetiQ Constellation Spacecraft

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., March 9, 2021 (Redwire PR) – Redwire, a new leader in mission critical space solutions and high reliability components for the next generation space economy, has been selected by PlanetiQ, a commercial weather satellite constellation operator, to supply solar arrays for their HD GPS-RO weather satellites. The contract will include delivery of a 130-watt solar array for PlanetiQ’s spacecraft. The agreement marks PlanetiQ’s third flight contract for Redwire’s solar arrays. Previously, Redwire’s subsidiary Roccor delivered two sets of solar arrays to PlanetiQ, dating back to 2018. 

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches Argentine Satellite

Falcon 9 lifts off with the SAOCOM 1B satellite. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched an Argentine Earth observation satellite on Sunday in a rare polar orbit flight from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

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SpaceX Set for Sunday Launch Doubleheader From Florida

UPDATE: The Starlink launch scheduled for the morning was scrubbed due to weather. The SAOCOM 1B mission is still planned for the evening, but the probability of acceptable weather is only 40 percent.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Sunday, August 30th for two launches – a  Starlink mission in the morning and the SAOCOM 1B mission in the evening.  

You can watch the launch webcasts here, starting about 15 minutes before liftoff.

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NOAA to Purchase Commercial Radio Occultation Weather Data

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NOAA will purchase radio occultation (RO) data from commercial companies after determining that the measurements are useful in improving weather forecasting.

In a report released last week, NOAA said measurements provided by Spire Global and GeoOptics satellites during the second round of the Commercial Weather Data Pilot (CWDP) program in 2018 and 2019 demonstrated the utility of commercial RO data.

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PlanetiQ Secures $18.7 Million Series B Financing Round Co-Led by New Science Ventures, AV8 Ventures

DENVER, Colorado (July 9, 2019) — PlanetiQ, the high-definition satellite-based weather forecasting and analytics company, today announced it has completed an $18.7 million Series B round of financing.

New Science Ventures and AV8 Ventures co-led the investment round with participation from existing and new investors, Valo Ventures, Kodem Growth Partners, Access Venture Partners, Virginia Tech Carilion Innovation Fund, Hemisphere Ventures, Service Provider Capital, Earth Investments, Moonshots Capital, and a large Kansas City-based family office that wishes to remain anonymous.

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NOAA Continues Push Toward Innovative Partnerships with Second Round of Commercial Weather Data Pilot

Radio occultation helps to increase the accuracy of weather prediction models by measuring the refraction of radio signals beamed through Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit; NOAA)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NESDIS has awarded contracts to three satellite companies as part of the Commercial Weather Data Pilot (CWDP) Round Two.

Awardees Spire, GeoOptics, and PlanetIQ will each provide space-based radio occultation data to NOAA for the purpose of demonstrating data quality and potential value to NOAA’s weather forecasts and warnings.

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PlanetiQ to Launch on India’s PSLV Rocket

Credit: PlanetiQ
Credit: PlanetiQ

BOULDER, Colo., Dec. 3, 2015 (PlanetiQ PR) — PlanetiQ has signed a contract with Antrix Corporation Limited, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), for the launch of PlanetiQ’s first two weather satellites on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) during the fourth quarter of 2016. Ten more satellites are planned for launch in 2017 to complete an initial set of 12 satellites that will dramatically improve global weather forecasting, climate monitoring and space weather prediction, and enable advanced analytics for numerous industries worldwide.

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PlanetiQ Opens Science and Engineering Facility in Boulder

PlanetiQ_logoBOULDER, Colo. and BETHESDA, Md., Aug. 24, 2015 (PlanetiQ PR) — PlanetiQ announced today the opening of its new science and engineering facility in Boulder, Colorado. The facility includes a laboratory clean room where PlanetiQ will complete the development and manufacture of its first 12 Pyxis-RO™ flight instruments for the world’s first commercial satellite constellation exclusively focused on weather, climate and space weather.

The facility is co-located with Blue Canyon Technologies, which is already working collaboratively with PlanetiQ to develop the initial set of 12 microsatellites scheduled for launch in late 2016 and 2017. Development and testing of the first two Pyxis-RO sensors has been underway since last spring.

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PlanetiQ Selects Blue Canyon Technologies to Build Weather Constellation

Credit: PlanetiQ
Credit: PlanetiQ

BETHESDA, Md. and BOULDER, Colo., June 24, 2015 (PlanetiQ/Blue Canyon PR) — PlanetiQ announced today that it has selected Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) out of Boulder, Colo., to build its revolutionary weather satellite constellation launching in 2016 and 2017. PlanetiQ chose BCT as a partner in developing the world’s first commercial constellation dedicated to weather, climate and space weather based on BCT’s development track record and its cutting-edge, low-cost design approach that has delivered hundreds of components and systems for numerous space missions.

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PlanetiQ Plans First Commercial Weather Satellite Constellation

PlanetiQ_logoA Maryland-based company named PlanetiQ is planning to launch a constellation of up to 18 small satellites over the next four years that are designed to significantly improve weather forecasting, climate monitoring and space weather predictions with up-to-date data.

Each satellite will include a fourth-generation radio occultation sensor that will receive signals from all four Global Navigation Satellite Systems–GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and Beidou. Data will be collected and transmitted to users in near real time, PlanetiQ General Counsel Karen Dacres, PlanetiQ’s said during the FAA’s 18th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference on Wednesday.

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