BOULDER, Colo. Officials at Orbital Micro Systems Ltd. (OMS), maker of space system applications and advanced instrumentation for small satellite missions, in Boulder, Colorado, have executed a contract with Satellite Applications Catapult in the United Kingdom to put its miniaturized weather observation technology into space. The mission is part of the In Orbit Demonstration (IOD) Program, funded by Innovate U.K. and managed by Catapult.
The IOD space mission, scheduled for autumn 2018, will deliver the first OMS satellite to orbit, and is expected to change the global availability of weather data by delivering detailed weather information which complements data available from the large institutional satellites currently in use. Using a number of engineering techniques, OMS has reduced the footprint from satellites weighing up to 2,500 kilograms down to a package the size of a shoebox. Just as importantly, OMS technology reduces weather satellite deployment costs by roughly 95 percent.
The payload, consisting of a 10x10x15-centimeter-size instrument in a 3U CubeSat satellite, will be launched in autumn 2018 by NanoRacks and put into low Earth orbit (LEO) via its CubeSat deployer (NRCSD) on the International Space Station (ISS) – via NanoRacks’ Space Act Agreement with NASA’s U.S. National Lab. Innovate UK has invested £1.5 million in the IOD program, which offers a CubeSat platform from Clyde Space and associated launch for four missions.
OMS projects its Global Environmental Monitoring Satellite (GEMS) program will scale to 35 units on orbit, providing temperature, humidity, and precipitation at different levels throughout the atmosphere, with a 15-minute refresh rate – for any point on the globe.
OMS anticipates delivering actionable weather data to a wide variety of markets including aerospace, maritime transportation, agriculture, insurance, and energy. Airlines and shipping companies will be able to plan routes that optimize weather conditions, reducing delays, fuel consumption, and emissions while operating with greater safety. Reductions of transoceanic flight times by just three minutes per segment will save the global airline industry nearly one million dollars in a single day.
The insurance markets will be able to transfer risk in near-real-time, providing better support for their clients and freeing up more capital to expand reinsurance coverage.
The vastly improved refresh rate will also allow for more accurate forecasting and tracking of major weather events such as hurricanes, and better weather mitigation planning for farmers around the world, improving the stability and security of the global food supply.
“The Global Entrepreneurs Program in the UK introduced us to the rich and energized space and science ecosystem in the UK, and we very quickly decided to build a significant presence in the Harwell Technology campus,” says William Hosack, OMS chief executive officer. “The In Orbit Demonstration Program allows us to prove our technology in space and demonstrate its viability to both investors and customers. Most importantly, it enables OMS to take the first steps in creating an entire new paradigm in weather data utilization.”
“Our role is to grow the market for space-based services and make sure the U.K. is at the forefront of it. The IOD Program is a prime example of the sort of opportunity available here and nowhere else; an innovator with a bright idea could see their concept realized and working, in space, within 16 months,” says Stuart Martin, CEO, Satellite Applications Catapult. “This has helped attract OMS to Harwell and we look forward to welcoming them and other international investors into a diverse and thriving U.K. space community.”
“This ground-breaking project from Orbital Micro Systems is exactly the type of innovative technology we wanted to see on the IOD mission,” says Innovate UK Head of Space Tim Just. “The decision by the company to invest in the UK at Harwell is a significant vote of confidence in the UK space sector, and in the work of the Satellite Applications Catapult.”
Orbital Micro Systems (OMS) specializes in the development and delivery of technology for space applications. With broad expertise in applied science, weather science and earth observation, instrumentation development, space operations, and program delivery, OMS is positioned to deliver innovation to many areas of the aerospace sector.