SAN FRANCISCO – Muon Space, a Silicon Valley startup building a climate-monitoring constellation, sent its first satellite into orbit June 12 on the SpaceX Transporter-8 rideshare flight.

With the 70-kilogram satellite, Muon intends to demonstrate the technology stack developed since the startup was founded in 2021.

“The first satellite launch is an important stepping stone for us to demonstrate that we can do things quickly with high performance and reliably,” Muon CEO Johnny Dyer told SpaceNews. “We’ve developed from scratch a very capable spacecraft platform as well as the infrastructure required to operate it on the ground.”

Unique Climate Applications

In two launches scheduled for 2024, Muon plans to begin testing sensors the company is developing to provide sub-hourly global measurements.

“We have a combination of sensors that can uniquely address some climate applications specifically,” Dyer said. “The constellation will collect a set of measurements at a sampling cadence and a temporal revisit cadence that is unprecedented. Measurements we’ll be making will be extremely impactful for flood and water issues.”

Muon plans to launch its first-generation microwave instrument in February to gather weather data for the U.S. Air Force and the Defense Innovation Unit. In October 2024, Muon plans to launch at least one additional satellite with microwave and multispectral infrared instruments, Dyer said.

“We are taking a very rapid, iterative approach to this,” Dyer said. “We think that flexibility is key to addressing a lot of these needs.”

Dyer, former chief engineer for Skybox Imaging, founded Muon with Dan McCleese, former NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory chief scientist, Pascal Stang, former Project Loon technology lead, Paul Day, Loft Orbital’s former chief product officer, and Reuben Rohrschneider, former Ball Aerospace principal mission systems and architecture engineer.

Science and Engineering Partnerships

In seed and Series A rounds, Muon has raised about $35 million to date. Muon also has established partnerships with key technology companies including Google and nonprofits like the Environmental Defense Fund.

“We can’t be the expert on every application, but we can deeply partner with groups to understand where the needs and gaps are,” Dyer said.

Muon is unique, Dyer said, in focusing on both science and engineering.

“We think there’s a lot of value in finding first-order operational pain points that are being driven by things like climate and national security and building out the capabilities needed to solve those problems,” Dyer said.

Correction: The list of founders has been corrected to include Pascal Stang, Project Loon’s technology lead.

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...