“I’m looking forward to the next era of advanced space weather capabilities to come from this partnership with Xplore. “— Dr. Joel B. Mozer, Chief Scientist, UNITED states Space Force
On the 17th of June 2020
Xplore Inc., a commercial space exploration company to give Space-as-a-Service™, today announced that they have received the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to the study of a solar observatory at the Earth-Sun L1 Lagrange point, to follow the Sun and allow for the early detection of solar events that can disrupt power grids and telecommunications on Earth.
Xplore-Founder and Chief Operating officer, Lisa Rich, said, “We are pleased to announce that NOAA has awarded Xplore-a study to assess the commercial feasibility of the Lagrange point mission with our Xcraft spaceship. We welcome the potential future opportunity to provide commercial services that can be leveraged to better understand the Sun and provide early warning to protect our critical infrastructure.” She continued, “Xplore unique, Space-as-a-Service business model provides a cost-effective solution for organizations such as NOAA to purchase only the data they need via service level agreements without having to buy the whole system. Our reward confirms NOAA’s commitment to leverage new commercial services to provide the environmental data necessary to the understanding of weather here on Earth and in space.”
The Earth-Sun L1 Lagrange point is located approximately one million miles (1.6 million km) from Earth to the Sun and three times farther than the Moon, the distance to the International Space Station, which is only 254 km. Xplore-multi-mission ESPA-class space vehicle, the Xcraft™ is designed for missions beyond earth orbit include the Moon, Mars, Venus, near Earth asteroids and points of Lagrange, the emphasis of the Xplore NOAA’s mission to study.
Since 1978, the Lagrange point L1) – the neutral gravity point between the Earth and the Sun has been continually placed in orbit by several observatories of NASA and ESA. The light of the Sun reaches L1 about five seconds sooner than the Earth. The constant stream of particles emitted by the sun (solar wind) reach L1 about an hour before they reach Earth, providing significant advanced warning of any disruptive space weather event.
Dr. Joel B. Mozer, Chief Scientist for the UNITED states Space force said, “Xplore has exercised the leadership in the trade missions that he is developing beyond the earth’s orbit. The space weather monitoring has been conducted by the governments of the activity in the course of the last 50 years, but this is an area where innovative companies can play a key role. I’m looking forward to the next era of advanced space weather capabilities to come from this partnership with Xplore.”
A bit like terrestrial weather, disturbances of the space weather events are not a matter of if, but when. The solar storms in March 1989 disrupted the Quebec power grid and, in October 2003 on the communication satellite under the influence of air travel and caused a one-hour power outage in Sweden. In 2013, the Lloyds of London study predicted that the most extreme space weather storms may affect the 20 to 40 million people in the UNITED states and cause up to $2.6 billion in damages, with the resumption by the taking into account of 4 to 10 years.
At different times in the course of the 11 year solar cycle, large expulsions of plasma and magnetic field of the sun’s corona (solar flares, or Cmes – coronal mass ejections) send strong electrical currents and radiation in the ionosphere and the Earth’s interior. They can travel at speeds of 250 km/s to as fast as 3,000 km/s, resulting in solar storms that can reach Earth in as little as 15 to 18 hours.
Past solar events that threatened or caused damage to critical infrastructure include the Solar Storms of September 2017, in July 2012, and the infamous Carrington event of September 1859, which hinders telecommunications across the Earth, and, today, would be the source of numerous and prolonged stoppages of the electric grid.
Scientists closely monitor the solar activity, because solar storms can cause power grid failures, and shortages of electricity and of radio and telecommunications interference they can disrupt high frequency radio communications, such as those used in commercial aviation, to communicate with the aircraft, an obstacle to the use of the Global Positioning System (GPS), and even corrode oil and gas pipelines. They also cause a radiation hazard for satellites providing telecommunications, navigation, monitoring and scientific services. Solar storms can pose a danger for astronauts during some phases of space missions beyond earth orbit.
Dr. Tamitha Skov, a forecaster for space weather, which educates the public on how solar events affect our lives every day, said, “As we become more reliant on technology such as our phones, GPS and other satellite services, we find that they are more sensitive to space weather. Advanced warning of solar storms, we can take precautionary measures and to mitigate the severity of the impacts of our grid system, to protect our infrastructure and to limit costly damage and outages.”
NOAA Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) has invited companies to respond to their needs and to submit innovative ideas. Xplore-Founder Lisa Rich, said, “we welcome the NOAA, the continuation of efforts to collaborate with industry. Xplore intends to provide a pathway for the commercial space weather and the solar observatory of solutions for NOAA with the Xplore L1 mission study. Xplore business of the solar observatory will enable the improvement of knowledge, forecasts and warnings to better protect the Nation’s critical infrastructure and the economy.”
On Xplore Inc.
Xplore is a Seattle-based company, offering the Space as a Service™. Xplore provides hosted loads, relay communication services and data sets exclusive to its customers via the Xcraft™, the company’s multi-mission spacecraft. Xplore’s mission is to develop robotic exploration through trade missions to and beyond the Earth, the Moon, Mars, Venus, Lagrange points and near Earth asteroids for the national space agencies, national security agencies, space agencies and universities.