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. NOAA will evaluate commercial data to demonstrate the quality of the data and its impact to weather forecast models, and to inform 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 selected GNSS radio occultation as the most suitable data type for the first two rounds of the CWDP.
Commercial Radio Occultation Data Purchase (2020-2022)
On Friday, November 20, 2020, NOAA awarded its first contracts to purchase commercially available space-based radio occultation (RO) data for use in NOAA’s operational weather forecasts. The two-year Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts with a total contract ceiling of $23 million, went to the U.S. commercial space firms GeoOptics and Spire Global.
Under the overall IDIQ contracts, NOAA also awarded initial Delivery Orders for this RO data to both companies. Subsequent Delivery Orders will be released throughout the two-year contract period at NOAA’s discretion.
This contracting action is a part of NOAA’s continuing efforts to meet the nation’s weather and environmental monitoring needs in a flexible and cost effective manner, and the next step in implementing the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-25), which directs NOAA to obtain commercial weather data from private sector providers following a pilot assessment that demonstrates commercial sector readiness. NOAA has requested $23 million in FY 2021 to support Commercial Data Purchase and future Commercial Weather Data Pilots to investigate new commercial space technologies beyond radio occultation.
CWDP Round 3 & Other NOAA Requirements
Request for Information
On September 30, 2020, NOAA released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking information on commercial capabilities to inform a potential CWDP Round 3 for terrestrial weather applications, as well as future pilots for space weather and other applications. NOAA may use the results of the RFI to inform multiple future Requests for Proposals for acquisition of commercial data and related capabilities.
The NOAA Commercial Space Policy states that NOAA will “periodically solicit, identify, and evaluate commercially available space capabilities and services that could potentially address NOAA mission requirements.” The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-25) authorized a Pilot Program for the purchase and evaluation of commercial weather data. As part of NOAA’s ongoing implementation of this law and policy, the RFI released today solicits information from industry to inform NOAA’s plans for use of commercial capabilities.
This RFI, open for 30 days, will gather updates since NOAA’s last commercial capabilities RFI, released in May 2018. It will seek information on commercial capabilities to support NOAA observation requirements in the FY 2021 through FY 2027 timeframe. NOAA plans to share responses received with relevant agencies to foster interagency coordination on approaches to purchasing space-based weather data for operational use within the Federal Weather Enterprise.
- May 2018: Request for Information (RFI)
CWDP Round 2 (2018-2019)
Summary of Results
On June 26, 2020, NOAA released the summary of the results of Commercial Weather Data Pilot (CWDP) Round 2. In Round 2, NOAA evaluated GNSS radio occultation data from two U.S. commercial space companies: GeoOptics and Spire. NOAA concludes that, based on the results of CWDP Round 2, the commercial sector is able to provide radio occultation data that can support NOAA’s operational products and services.
- Sept 2018: Contract Awards to GeoOptics, Spire Global, & Space Sciences and Engineering
- April 2018: Final RFP
- June 2017: Industry Day
- May 2017: Draft RFP
CWDP Round 1 (2016-2018)
Origin & Initial Plan
FY 2016 Direction
Congress initiated the CWDP with the following language in the FY 2016 omnibus funding measure:
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.
Report to Congress
NOAA’s March 2016 report to Congress provides the initial plan to execute the CDWP, including timelines.