The NOAA Commercial Space Policy calls for NOAA to explore and pursue demonstration projects to validate the viability of adding commercial environmental data and products into NOAA’s meteorological models and to meet NOAA Earth observation requirements.
NOAA’s Commercial Weather Data Pilot (CWDP) will serve as one such demonstration project, and will evaluate commercial data to demonstrate the quality of the data and its impact to weather forecast models, as well as informing NOAA’s process for ingesting, evaluating, and utilizing commercial data in the future. Based on the findings of recent market research and FAR processes (e.g., Requests for Information), NOAA has selected GNSS radio occultation (GNSS-RO) as the most suitable data type for the CWDP.
2016 Contract Awards
On September 15, 2016, NOAA awarded contracts to GeoOptics, Inc., and Spire Global, Inc., as part of the Commercial Weather Data Pilot.
GeoOptics and Spire Global will each provide space-based GNSS radio occultation data to NOAA for the purpose of demonstrating data quality and potential value to NOAA’s weather forecasts and warnings. This approach is a win-win solution. Both NOAA and the commercial firms will gain a trial run of the NOAA evaluation process, a necessary first step to considering sustained operational use of new commercial weather data.
The companies have until April 30, 2017, to complete the delivery of their data. NESDIS will conduct an assessment of the data through the end of FY 2017 and will produce its final report in early FY 2018.
Further information on the contract awards is available on fbo.gov:
2016 Request for Quotation
On July 28, 2016, NOAA released a Request for Quotation (RFQ) in support of the CWDP. The RFQ seeks on-orbit radio occultation data from commercial sources for the purpose of demonstrating data quality and potential value to NOAA’s weather forecasts and warnings.
Responses to the solicitation are due August 12. NOAA anticipates awarding one or more contracts based on RFQ responses by the end of this fiscal year (September 30, 2016). Awardee delivery of data and NOAA evaluation of the data would take place through FY 2017.
Draft RFQ and Industry Day
On June 21, 2016, NESDIS released a draft of the RFQ for public comment by July 15. Comments received informed development of the final RFQ.
In conjunction with the draft RFQ open comment period, on July 7 NESDIS hosted the third in its series of Community Engagements with the commercial space industry. Topics included addressing questions about the draft RFQ and an update on NESDIS commercial efforts more broadly.
2016 Request for Information
On May 24, 2016, NESDIS released a Request for Information (RFI) to support the CWDP. The RFI was the first step to bring radio occultation data from commercial companies to NOAA. The RFI sought pre-launch data in order to facilitate broad participation and gather the latest industry input as NOAA considered what criteria to include in a Request for Quotation (RFQ), the next step in carrying out the Pilot. The comment period closed June 13.
Initial Plan / Report to Congress
The following congressional report provides NESDIS’s plan to execute the CDWP, including timelines for all activities. We will continue to share information on the execution steps as the Pilot progresses.
Origin / FY 2016 Budget
Congress initiated the CWDP with a $3 million line item in the FY 2016 NOAA budget. The Explanatory Statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114- 113) included the following language:
Commercial Weather Data Pilot.—NOAA shall, through an open competitive process, seek to enter into at least one pilot contract to assess the potential viability of commercial weather data in its weather modeling and forecasting. This funding shall be used to purchase, evaluate, and calibrate available data, which meets the standards and specifications set by NOAA in its Commercial Data Policy. NOAA shall provide the Committees a report on how it plans to implement the commercial weather data pilot program not later than 60 days after the enactment of this Act.
FY 2017 Budget
The NOAA budget request for FY 2017 includes $5 million to continue the CWDP.