U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX21), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, along with U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK1), chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment for the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, today released the following statements congratulating GeoOptics, a private sector weather company, on earning a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration contract to acquire data from a commercial weather satellite constellation. GeoOptics has been hired to provide GPS Radio Occultation data to increase weather forecasting.

“NOAA’s inaugural award to GeoOptics for commercial weather data marks an important milestone to transform our faltering government weather satellite programs” said Chairman Smith. “Unfortunately, over the last decade, our government satellite systems have been plagued by cost overruns and delays that risk the loss of American lives and property from severe storms. I am encouraged that NOAA is listening to Congressional calls to consider a paradigm shift by beginning to seriously consider all options to better predict weather. NOAA’s first of hopefully many awards will provide innovative private sector weather data to enhance our weather forecasting capabilities. I thank GeoOptics and Spire for their leadership, ingenuity, and entrepreneurial spirit.”

“With the awarding of multiple contracts, NOAA has shown that there is great potential for the government to leverage this new industry.” said Chairman Bridenstine. “I applaud GeoOptics, and am confident that more data from innovative private companies will help save lives and property.”

NOAA awarded contracts to GeoOptics and Spire under the Commercial Weather Data Pilot program, which was first proposed in House-passed H.R. 1561, the Lucas-Bridenstine Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 funded a pilot program based on H.R. 1561. NOAA began implementing the pilot in early 2016.