June 24, 2015 BETHESDA, MD and BOULDER, CO —Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) has been selected by PlanetiQ to build the world’s first commercial satellite constellation dedicated to weather, climate and space weather. The first satellites will be launched in late 2016 and continue into the first half of 2017.
Blue Canyon Technologies was selected by PlanetiQ based on its development track record and its cutting-edge, low-cost design approach that has delivered hundreds of components and systems for numerous space missions. In April, BCT was awarded a contract to build the Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) small satellite for the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University.
“Weather is the next commercial space frontier, as demand grows not only for better forecasts of day-to-day weather, severe storms and hurricanes, but also for weather and climate data solutions that enhance weather readiness, support risk management and increase business intelligence,” said Anne Hale Miglarese, President and CEO of PlanetiQ. “Together, PlanetiQ and BCT bring the innovation, technical expertise and experience to cost-effectively product the high-quality data needed to transform the weather satellite industry and deliver unprecedented economic value.”
BCT plans to build an initial set of 12 microsatellites. Each satellite will carry a Global Positioning System radio occultation payload. PlanetiQ and BCT are already working side-by-side on the project, with PlanetiQ having co-located its aerospace engineering team at BCT’s facilities in Boulder. This allows the satellites and sensors to be manufactured and integrated in the same location. Together, BCT and PlanetiQ have already dramatically reduced the satellite size and weight without sacrificing any instrument capabilities.
“We are certainly pleased to be chosen by PlanetiQ. Weather is emerging as a major growth sector for aerospace, and our partnership with PlanetiQ positions BCT and the state of Colorado to play a leading role,” said George Stafford, President and CEO of BCT. “Our systems and components match well with PlanetiQ’s instrument requirements and we are glad to be working on this spacecraft and mission.
PlanetiQ recently announced the successful testing of its first “Pyxis” weather sensor and is setting up for production with BCT. Pyxis collects dense, precise measurements of global temperature, pressure and water vapor using a technique called GPS Radio Occultation (GPS-RO). This is similar to data collected by weather balloons but on more of a global scale. Among the satellite data sources currently ingested into computer weather models, GPS-RO has shown to be the most cost-effective and has the highest impact per observation on forecast accuracy. As of today, only a sparse amount of GPS-RO data exists.
Pyxis is the only GPS-RO sensor in a small package that is powerful enough to provide more than 10 times the amount of data available from GPS-RO sensors currently on orbit, and to routinely probe down into the lowest layers of the atmosphere where severe weather occurs.
“The small size and weight of the Pyxis sensor – combined with BCT’s high-performance mission experience – will allow us to quickly field a constellation to provide the highest quality, most cost-effective weather data ever available,” said PlanetiQ Founder Chris McCormick, who leads PlanetiQ’s instrument team and developed the sensors for the only GPS-RO constellation that has provided operational weather forecast data. “With 12 satellites providing 8 million data points per day, GPS-RO will easily become the most important contributor to weather forecast accuracy at a fraction of the cost of traditional weather satellites.”
About Blue Canyon Technologies
Blue Canyon Technologies, LLC (BCT) is a privately held business founded in 2008 to bring high-performance, affordable solutions to space missions. The company is an innovative, experienced integrator of aerospace systems and developer of advanced aerospace products and technologies. BCT has designed, developed, tested and delivered systems and components for dozens of space mission, with over 30 systems to be launched within the next 18 months for the US Department of Defense, NASA and commercial customers. BCT is based in Boulder, Colorado.
PlanetiQ has commenced development of its initial satellites for the first commercial constellation dedicated to weather, climate and space weather, and is now raising additional capital to fund the build and launch of the constellation through completion. PlanetiQ data and services are valuable to a diverse range of government and commercial customers worldwide in areas including weather forecasting, aviation, shipping, offshore operations, defense, intelligence, energy, agriculture and insurance. PlanetiQ is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland.