NOAA Releases RFP for Radio Occultation Data Buy (RODB) IDIQ-2

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — Today, Wednesday, July 20, 2022, NOAA released a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the second purchase of space-based commercial radio occultation (RO) data for use in NOAA’s operational weather forecasts.

View RFP at SAM.gov

The RFP is open for 34 days and follows the December 2021 release of a draft Statement of Work for public comment. This is a follow-on to the Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts that were awarded in November 2020.

NOAA is soliciting commercial near-real-time satellite-based Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) RO and ionospheric measurements that will be processed into neutral atmosphere and space weather products. These derived products will be fed into NOAA’s operational data systems, including weather and space weather analysis and prediction systems, and used for weather, climate, and atmospheric research purposes. All data and products will be archived by NOAA.

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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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Spire Global Unveils Plan to Augment its Weather Data and Forecasting with Microwave Sounders

Spire will offer robust weather data and forecasting capabilities from space with the addition of atmospheric moisture measures from microwave sounders

VIENNA, Va. (Spire Global, Inc. PR) Spire Global, Inc. (NYSE: SPIR) (“Spire” or “the Company”), a leading global provider of space-based data, analytics and space services, today announced plans to build upon its fully deployed constellation of over 100 multipurpose satellites with satellites carrying microwave sounders to gather atmospheric moisture and temperature measurements. The measurements collected by these instruments will expand the company’s data offerings and, when coupled with the weather and Earth intelligence data that Spire currently collects through radio occultation and reflectometry measurements, will further enhance the value and accuracy of its global weather forecasts.

Spire entered a partnership with RAL Space, a part of the Science and Technology Faciliti​es Council (STFC) in the UK, to further develop and deploy the Hyperspectral Microwave Sounder (HYMS) on Spire satellites. The HYMS instrument is a new, advanced millimeter wave technology that delivers microwave sounding information to improve weather forecasting. Spire and STFC will work together on a demonstrator mission of the HYMS, launching it on a 16U Spire satellite, with the long-term objective of launching a full constellation for atmospheric monitoring.

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NOAA’s JPSS-2 Satellite Completes Critical Testing Milestone

JPSS-2 satellite enters thermal vacuum chamber for testing. (Credit: NOAA)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — NOAA’s JPSS-2 satellite has cleared a critical testing milestone, bringing it a step closer to launch. Last week, the polar-orbiting satellite emerged from the chamber after completing its thermal vacuum testing. This test is meant to show that the spacecraft and all of its instruments will perform successfully when exposed to the harsh environments of space. 

“I can absolutely say with 100% certainty that the observatory is working great,” said JPSS Flight Project Manager Andre Dress. “All the instruments are performing great, and we’re going to meet all our requirements – and then some.”  

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NASA Statement on Launch Failure, Loss of TROPICS Spacecraft

TROPICS mission CubeSat (Credit: Blue Canyon Technologies)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — While we are disappointed in the loss of the two TROPICS CubeSats, the mission is part of NASA’s Earth venture program, which provides opportunities for lower-cost, higher risk missions. Despite a loss of the first two of six satellites, the TROPICS constellation will still meet its science objectives with the four remaining CubeSats distributed in two orbits.  With four satellites, TROPICS will still provide improved time-resolved observations of tropical cyclones compared to traditional observing methods.

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Astra Space Rocket Launch Fails Again, Two NASA TROPICS Satellites Lost

Rocket 3.3’s second stage Aether engine flashes as it fails during a launch on June 12, 2022. (Credit: Astra Space/Nasaspaceflight webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The second stage of an Astra Space Rocket 3.3 rocket failed less than a minute before planned shutdown on Sunday, sending two NASA TROPICS mission satellites plunging into the atmosphere instead of entering orbit.

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NASA to Launch 6 Small Satellites to Monitor, Study Tropical Cyclones

An image of Tropical Cyclone Batsirai over Madagascar captured by the TROPICS Pathfinder satellite in February of 2022. (Credit: NASA)

Update: The launch aboard an Astra Space Rocket 3.3 booster failed after the vehicle’s second stage shut down prematurely on Sunday. NASA said in an update that the TROPICS constellation can still improve the monitoring of tropical cyclones with four satellites. Astra Space has the contract to launch the four additional TROPICS spacecraft on two launches.

By Sofie Bates
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA is launching the first two of six small satellites no earlier than June 12 that will study the formation and development of tropical cyclones almost every hour – about four to six times more often than is possible with current satellites. This is the first of three CubeSat launches for NASA’s Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) mission. The remaining satellites will be placed into their orbits during two subsequent launches this year. If successful, the TROPICS satellites will be spread across three orbital planes to cover more of the globe more frequently.

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Astra Space Scheduled to Launch NASA TROPICS Mission on Sunday

Astra Space is scheduled to launch NASA’s TROPICS-1 mission on Sunday, June 12 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The launch window opens at 12 p.m. EDT. A livestream of the launch will begin at T-30 minutes: http://astra.com/livestream#AdAstra

Astra’s Rocket 3.3 will launch the first two of six small Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) spacecraft that will study the formation and development of tropical cyclones almost every hour – about four to six times more often than is possible with current satellites.

NASA Selects Ball Aerospace, Raytheon for NOAA Atmospheric Composition Instrument Study

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — On behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA has selected two firms for the Geostationary Extended Observations (GeoXO) Atmospheric Composition (ACX) instrument Phase A Study. These firms will provide services to help meet the objectives of NOAA’s GeoXO program.

Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colorado, and Raytheon Intelligence & Space of El Segundo, California will both receive twenty-month firm-fixed-price contracts for approximately $5 million. The work will be performed at the contractors’ facilities.

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NOAA to Study New Technologies for Future Satellite Products, Services

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — NOAA plans to release three Broad Agency Announcements, or BAAs, that may lead to a review of advanced technologies for its future satellite and ground architecture, products and services.  

The BAAs – and the studies that will result – are part of NOAA’s Office of System Architecture and Advanced Planning (OSAAP) Joint Venture Program. Joint Venture examines the feasibility of partnering with other federal agencies, the academic community, or the commercial sector to develop promising innovative research and technology to meet NOAA’s future observational, product and service needs.

Specifically, the BAAs will explore technologies for: 

  • Measuring hyper-spectral microwave remote sensing observations;
  • Measuring 3-D atmospheric wind profiles; and 
  • Developing a digital twin system for Earth observations using Artificial Intelligence

These emerging technologies are to be investigated for their value in enhancing a variety of NOAA’s systems including Numerical Weather Prediction and satellite ground processing. The BAAs are a critical first step in assessing possibilities for the future and not tied to a particular mission or end need.

The BAAs will be posted on the federal contracts opportunities website: SAM.gov. Following the release of the BAAs there will be a Community Day for all interested parties as announced in the BAA. Based on the responses to the BAAs, NOAA will choose the best options to pursue.

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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NOAA’s GOES-T Reaches Geostationary Orbit, Now Designated GOES-18

Illustration of the GOES-T spacecraft with Earth’s reflection. (Credits: Lockheed Martin)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — On March 14, 2022, GOES-T executed its final engine burn, placing the satellite in geostationary orbit 22,236 miles above Earth. Upon reaching this milestone, GOES-T was renamed GOES-18. GOES satellites are designated with a letter prior to launch and a number once they achieve geostationary orbit.

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SaxaVord UK Spaceport and Met Office Reach Forecasting Agreement

Future launch site (Credit: SaxaVord UK Spaceport)

GRANTOWN ON SPREY, Scotland (SaxaVord UK Spaceport PR) — SaxaVord UK Spaceport is to install a weather station with the support of the Met Office, to help with forecasting for rocket launches.

The Met Office will advise on the most appropriate equipment and best location on the Lamba Ness peninsula where launches are to take place.

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