WASHINGTON — Tempus Global Data, the Ogden, Utah-based firm that last year took over an effort to commercialize a Utah State University design for a geostationary-orbiting weather sensor, has contracted with Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. to build eight copies of the sensor, the company announced in a Jan. 7 press release.
Under the arrangement, Ball would build six Sounding & Tracking Observatory for Regional Meteorology (STORM) sensors to fly as hosted payloads on geostationary satellites, and possibly two more that would fly on dedicated satellites, Tempus said in its press release. Financial terms of the deal, under which Utah State would support Ball’s effort, were not disclosed.
Tempus spokesman Mark Hurst said the company has “closed an initial round” of financing for its ambitious project but declined to provide details.
“Our target date for first launch is early 2018. We don’t have a specific start date on building STORM 1 but it is roughly a three year build for the first sensor,” Hurst wrote in a Jan. 14 email.
The STORM sensor was originally developed by Utah State for a U.S. government mission that ultimately was canceled. Tempus emerged as the university’s commercialization partner last year after a similar arrangement with GeoMetWatch, which hoped to deploy a global network of STORM sensors and sell the data to weather agencies and other organizations, collapsed in acrimony. The first STORM sensor was supposed to fly as a hosted payload aboard a satellite owned by AsiaSat of Hong Kong, but that deal fell through after GeoMetWatch was unable to secure the necessary financing in time to meet the satellite’s production schedule.
In a separate press release issued Jan. 13, Tempus said it had entered into a strategic partnership with Science and Technology Corp. (STC) of Silver Spring, Maryland, to develop STORM data products. STC is a technology company whose government clients include the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s weather satellite and National Weather Service divisions.