ST. LOUIS – Orbital Micro Systems announced an agreement Oct. 5 with UK technology firm Thomas Keating Ltd. to jointly fund design, development and testing of millimeter-wave instruments for commercial weather satellites.
OMS launched the first commercial cubesat equipped with a microwave radiometer in 2019. Since then, the Boulder, Colorado-based firm has been working to enhance the precision and observation capabilities of instruments for its planned Global Environmental Monitoring System (GEMS) cubesat constellation.
Through GEMS, OMS seeks to provide government and commercial customers with “unique, highly localized earth observation data that will enhance real-time weather forecasting,” according to the Oct. 5 news release.
Thomas Keating provided the hardware for the first GEMS cubesat launched in 2019.
The latest agreement is designed “to formalize and strengthen” OMS’ ties with Thomas Keating, OMS CEO Michael Hurowitz said in a statement. “We anticipate that this partnership will help streamline the design-to-launch process and bring us closer to our goal of gathering and disseminating weather and climate observations for any point on the globe in fifteen-minute intervals.”
OMS’s first cubesat was deployed from the International Space Station in 2019. OMS then won a $1.8 million contract to provide weather data for a U.S. Air Force pilot program.
OMS is preparing to launch an updated version of its GEMS satellite in 2022, called GEMS2, with “state-of-the-art microwave radiometers designed and manufactured by OMS with support from the U.S. Air Force, Space Force, Navy, Lockheed Martin and the UK Space Agency,” according to the news release. The instruments are designed to provide temperature, humidity and precipitation data across 24 sounding and imaging channels.
Richard Wylde, managing director of Billinghurst, England-based Thomas Keating, said in a statement, “The move toward lower-cost satellite platforms utilizing precision instrumentation that can cost-effectively increase observation-revisits and data integrity will fuel a data-starved market.”