U.S. Commercial Weather Hopeful Secures NOAA Operating License

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WASHINGTON — Tempus Global Data, which is seeking to deploy a global network of sounder instruments aboard geostationary satellites and sell the data commercially, has received its operating license from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the company announced July 22.

“This license by NOAA is the first in a series of significant milestones that we expect in the coming months that will enable Tempus to provide critical weather data with an unprecedented level of accuracy and detail,” Alan Hall, Tempus president and chief executive, said in a prepared statement. “The license is a compelling example of how private industry can benefit from investment by the U.S. Government on research and development for weather related hyperspectral technology.”

Tempus is working with the Utah State University in Logan to commercialize the Sounding and Tracking Observatory for Regional Meteorology (STORM) instrument, which is designed to take high-fidelity measurements of atmospheric conditions. The sensor is based on the Geosynchronous Imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometer sensor that was developed by the university for NASA for a satellite that never flew.

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Plans call for deploying a global constellation of six STORM sensors as hosted payloads aboard geostationary orbiting satellites. The data from the 300-kilogram sensors would then be sold to commercial and government customers around the world.

A venture capital firm based in Ogden, Utah, Tempus Global Data took over the STORM commercialization effort from GeoMetWatch, whose partnership with Utah State University unraveled early this year. 

GeoMetWatch in May sued Hall, Tempus and the university in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division, alleging breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets and other civil violations related to the collapse of its STORM commercialization agreement. That case is pending.

As recently as April, Tempus was racing against the clock to raise $150 million necessary to place an initial STORM sensor aboard the AsiaSat 9 communications satellite being built for AsiaSat of Hong Kong and tentatively slated for a mid-2016 launch. AsiaSat originally signed its sensor hosting agreement with GeoMetWatch but terminated that deal in April.

The AsiaSat 9 opportunity has since passed, but the companies are negotiating launching the sensor on AsiaSat’s next satellite, according to Mark Hurst, executive vice president of Tempus. In an emailed response to questions, Hurst said Tempus also is in discussions with other prospective launch partners.

“We have rapidly and successfully moved past any affiliation with [GeoMetWatch] and will, shortly, have additional announcements about strategic partnerships on both the sensor construction and on our plans for creating and selling data products,” Hurst said.

In a statement emailed to SpaceNews July 25, Scott Jensen, director of the Utah State University’s Advanced Weather Systems Foundation, said: “We are excited and energized to be working with Tempus and to assist them in their business venture to commercialize STORM weather data. We as a team (Tempus & AWS) continue to engage private and government customers to make this technology and subsequent weather data sets a reality.”  

 

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