Editor’s note: A revised version of this release titled “GeoOptics Awarded First Government Commercial Weather Satellite Data Purchase Contract” was issued by House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology a few hours after this release was put out.

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 Spire, Inc., a private sector weather company, on earning the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration first contract to acquire data from a commercial weather satellite constellation. Spire has been hired to provide GPS Radio Occultation data to increase weather forecasting.

“I am pleased that NOAA is making an initial award to acquire private sector weather data to address an issue the Science Committee has been monitoring over the course of multiple Congresses. ” said Chairman Smith. “In the face of looming data gaps and continual delays with our governmental satellite systems, the private sector can provide data to better predict weather and protect American lives and property. In the face of real threats, NOAA needs to address its shortfalls and think beyond government weather systems by making further awards under the commercial weather data program. Today, I am encouraged that NOAA will to do what is right and put Americans’ safety and best interest first.

“Private sector companies such as Spire are developing capabilities to provide data that can improve our severe weather forecasts,” said Chairman Bridenstine. “This is critically important for my state of Oklahoma. I applaud NOAA for taking this critical first step to signal to industry that NOAA is open to these new sources of data.”

NOAA awarded the contract to 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.