TEMPEST-D data from Jan. 29, 2019 shows a storm in the southeastern United States. Rainfall estimates from ground-based weather radar are in the lower right-hand corner. Circles show coverage of individual weather radars. Credit: V. Chandrasekar

LOGAN, Utah — Small satellite manufacturer Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) announced plans Aug. 5 to continue operating two NASA-funded cubesats, TEMPEST-D and HaloSat, from its mission operations center in Boulder, Colorado.

Both TEMPEST-D, short for Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems – Demonstration, and HaloSat, an investigation of the Milky Way’s galactic halo, were launched from the International Space Station in July 2018. A year later, both six-unit cubesats built by BCT are working well, said BCT CEO George Stafford.

The contract extensions reflect the performance of BCT hardware and the firm’s “ability to operate missions and deliver mission data to our customers,” Stafford said by email. “The complete turn-key and affordable solutions from BCT enable these missions to continue way beyond their intended mission life.”

BCT is building more than 60 spacecraft for government, commercial and academic customers. Increasingly, the company also operates satellites for customers. BCT currently operates five satellite missions and plans to begin 12 more in 2020, Stafford said.

The TEMPEST-D satellite makes global measurements of water vapor, clouds and precipitation using a five-channel millimeter-wave radiometer. The cubesat developed by Colorado State University, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the California Institute of Technology and BCT. NASA’s Earth Ventures program is sponsoring the mission.

Under the contract extensions, BCT will continue to operate TEMPEST-D for four months and HaloSat for five months, Stafford said. BCT officials declined to comment on the value of the awards.

HaloSat, a mission developed by the University of Iowa, is the first cubesat funded by NASA’s Astrophysics Division. HaloSat relies on X-ray detectors to observe hot baryon gas in the Milky Way.

“It’s been a pleasure working with the talented team from BCT on the construction and operations of HaloSat,” said Philip Kaaret, HaloSat principal investigator and a professor in the University of Iowa’s Physics and Astronomy Department.

BCT is expanding rapidly. The firm, which has doubled its staff in the past year, plans to open a new 80,000-square-foot headquarters and production facility in 2020.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...