The weather data and forecasting startup ClimaCell today announced that it plans to launch its own constellation of small weather satellites. These radar-equipped satellites will allow ClimaCell to improve its ability to get a better picture of global weather and improve its forecasting abilities. The company expects the first of these to launch in the second half of 2022.
As ClimaCell CEO Shimon Elkabetz points out in today’s announcement, ground-based radar coverage, which allows you to get information about precipitation and cloud structure, remains spotty, even in the U.S., which in turn often makes even basic forecasting more difficult. And while there are (expensive) space-based radar satellites available, those often only revisit the same area every three days, limiting their usefulness. ClimaCell hopes that its constellation of small, specialized satellites will offer hourly revisit times.
We started with proprietary sensing and modeling to predict the weather more accurately at every point in the world, and built on top of it one software platform that can be configured to every job and vertical,” Elkabetz writes. “[…] Now, we are evolving into a SaaS company powered by Space: We’re launching a constellation of satellites to improve weather forecasting for the entire world. For the first time, a constellation of active radar will surround Earth and provide real-time observations to feed weather forecasting at every point on the globe.
That’s indeed a big step for the company, but we may just see more of this in the near future. While even 10 years ago it would have been hard for even a well-funded company to launch its own satellites, that’s quite different now. A number of factors contributed to this, ranging from easier access to launch services, breakthroughs in building these proprietary radar satellites and the availability of auxiliary services like ground stations as a service, which now even AWS and Microsoft offer, and a whole ecosystem of vendors that specialize in building these satellites. The ClimaCell team tells me that it is talking to a lot of vendors right now and will choose which one to go to later on.