GMW, AsiaSat Extend Deadline for Weather Sensor Deal

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PARIS — Startup commercial weather-data provider GeoMetWatch (GMW) has missed a financing deadline to fly a hyperspectral sounding instrument aboard a commercial telecommunications satellite, but GMW and the satellite’s owner are continuing their work on the project, GMW Chief Executive David J. Crain said.

In an email exchange Aug. 28, Crain said Las Vegas-based GMW “is in final negotiations” with Hong Kong-based AsiaSat that will prepare for the GMW sounder being integrated aboard an AsiaSat satellite to launch in 2016.

AsiaSat has not yet selected a manufacturer for the satellite, to be located at 122 degrees east in geostationary orbit. GMW’s business plan is to sell meteorological data from the sounder instrument to multiple governments in Asia.

GMW and AsiaSat will share revenue from the service once GMW has reimbursed AsiaSat the estimated $185 million the Hong Kong fleet operator estimates it will cost to purchase, integrate and launch the sounder.

The two companies’ agreement, announced in April, would be the first commercial meteorological instrument flying as a hosted payload aboard a telecommunications satellite.

GMW and AsiaSat had agreed that GMW would issue a convertible note to AsiaSat, for a value to be agreed to between the two companies, by July 31.

Crain said the two companies have agreed to continue work under a new schedule.

In its Aug. 22 filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, AsiaSat said “there are a number of technical and commercial challenges yet to be overcome” to conclude the arrangement, but that the company remains optimistic about it.

“Things take longer than planned,” Crain said. “We signed an extension several weeks ago to extend the deadline, so we are still on track. Bus selection will occur soon and some things will fall into place after that.”

The GMW-provided hyperspectral sensor is expected to weigh around 300 kilograms and to consume 500 watts of power, meaning AsiaSat’s selection of a satellite manufacturer will in part be driven by the builder’s ability to meet AsiaSat’s core telecommunications mission while providing space and power for the GMW mission.