The United States Space Force's Space and Missile Systems Center awarded SpaceX a $2 million contract to research for a period of six-months how to provide satellite weather data from low Earth orbit. The contract is part of a Space Force program called Electro Optical/Infrared Weather System (EO/IR EWS) to develop prototypes of satellites that could provide enhanced weather data.
The Chief of the Space and Missile Systems Center Production Corps Low Earth Orbit Division, Charlotte Gerhart, told SpaceNews reporters that the contract was awarded in July to "assess the feasibility and long term viability of a ‘weather data as a service business model,'" he said. "The EWS program goal remains to provide a more resilient and higher refresh capability, enhancing global terrestrial weather capability," Gerhart stated. Other satellite manufacturers that also earned a U.S. Space Force contract to develop weather-detecting satellites are: General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, Raytheon Technologies, and Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates.
SpaceX developed internet-beaming Starlink satellites that will provide broadband service to rural areas worldwide. The company has been manufacturing 120 satellites per month at its Redmond, Washington facility, and is launching them atop Falcon 9 rockets on a monthly basis. SpaceX has not released any details about the development of weather-detecting satellites. It is unclear if SpaceX will develop a new weather satellite model unrelated to the Starlink network; Or if this contract is related to the broadband Starlink constellation it is deploying in low Earth orbit. Maybe Starlink satellites could be multi-purpose and be equipped with weather sensors for research in the future --though this is just a speculation.
SpaceX is also working to build missile-tracking satellites for the military's U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA). According to a financial document published by the Pentagon Department of Defense on October 2nd, the contract is valued at $149 million. Under the SDA contract, SpaceX will use its Starlink manufacturing facility to build four satellites for the military.
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.