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

SAN FRANCISCO – Muon Space will deliver space weather data to the U.S. Space Force under a $400,000 contract option announced July 11.

Under the original $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 from a space-based prototype microwave sensor. The option directs Muon to also monitor the ionosphere for the U.S. Space Force through September 2024.

“Obviously solar activity influences the ionosphere,” Muon CEO Johnny Dyer told SpaceNews. “This is a really important measurement for users of RF communication systems.”

The Department of Defense plans to evaluate data from Muon’s second satellite, MuSat-2, for operational weather forecasting, ionospheric modeling and climate change assessment. Data collected during the pilot program will be available for government-run Observing System Simulation Experiments or OSSEs. Government agencies conduct OSSEs to assess the impact of new datasets on forecasts and models.

For example, the Air Force could simulate the impact of data gathered during the MuSat-2 pilot on numerical weather prediction. Pilot project data will be compatible with the USAF’s Weather Virtual Private Cloud.

Defense Department Customers

The latest contract option expands Muon’s customer base within the Defense Department. It also demonstrates the versatility of Muon’s software-defined instrument, Dyer said.

“We’ll be delivering three different products using essentially the same instrument in orbit,” Dyer said.  

Muon will supply the Air Force with global soil moisture and sea surface wind measurements in addition to ionospheric data for the Space Force.

First Satellite Launch

Muon’s first satellite launched in June on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare flight is “outperforming our expectations,” Dyer said. “It’s been a fantastic first platform for us to have in space, and it is going to be a valuable asset as we continue to upgrade the software onboard.”

MuSat-2, is scheduled to launch in February. While MuSat-2 shares the same spacecraft bus as MuSat-1, it will be equipped with Muon’s first software-defined sensor.

“Muon Space is honored by the Air Force, Space Force and DIU’s belief in our capabilities to bring new insights to DoD weather and ionospheric models with new data to include soil moisture, ocean winds and total electron content.  We’re excited to showcase the operational relevance of this commercial space dataset to the DoD,” Dyer said in a statement.

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...