Muon Space plans to launch a software-defined microwave sensor in February 2024. Credit: Muon Space

WASHINGTON — The startup Muon Space announced Jan. 9 it will explore the use of climate-monitoring satellites to capture cloud characterization data for the U.S. Air Force. 

The Mountain View, California-based company, founded in 2021, is developing small satellites to monitor Earth’s climate and ecosystems. 

Under a Small Business Innovation Research Phase 1 contract from the U.S. Air Force, Muon Space “will perform a feasibility study to determine the benefit of modifying its multispectral electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) instrument to support the Department of Defense’s cloud characterization observation capability,” the company said. 

Imaging cloud cover is an important requirement that DoD is looking to fill with weather satellites.  The military needs accurate data on cloud cover to launch munitions, and intelligence agencies rely on that data to plan satellite imagery collections. DoD is studying options to replace aging Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites currently in operation past their end of life and at risk of failure. 

“Muon Space is developing an EO/IR constellation solution that offers a commercial path to fill these gaps,” said Greg Smirin, president of Muon Space.

The company’s first satellite launched last summer. 

Space Force, NRO contracts

Muon Space in July announced it won a $400,000 Space Force contract to deliver space weather data.

Under a $2.8 million contract with Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Weather Systems Branch and the Defense Innovation Unit awarded in 2022, Muon will deliver terrestrial weather products to the Air Force 557th Weather Wing.

Muon Space in November was selected by the National Reconnaissance Office to provide multispectral electro-optical and infrared data collected by the company’s future climate monitoring constellation. The NRO will evaluate the data and the company’s capabilities to support future intelligence needs. 

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...