The rendering shows a Blue Canyon Technologies cube satellite as it might look while in orbit. (Blue Canyon Technologies LLC)

Boulder’s Blue Canyon Technologies tapped to build weather-satellite constellation

BOULDER – Bethesda, Md., startup PlanetiQ has contracted with Boulder-based Blue Canyon Technologies LLC to build a commercial constellation of 12 weather satellites that it hopes will improve weather modeling capabilities for a variety of users.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But BCT president and CEO George Stafford said Wednesday that the deal is a big one for his company, and that ultimately the constellation could grow to as many as 40 to 48 satellites.

“Weather is emerging as a major growth sector for aerospace, and our partnership with PlanetiQ positions BCT and the state of Colorado to play a leading role,” Stafford said.

PlanetiQ aims to sell the data gathered from its satellites – each about the size of two loaves of bread – to customers worldwide in the meteorology, aviation, shipping, defense, intelligence, and agriculture industries. The Maryland company will build the sensors and imaging equipment, which use a technique called GPS Radio Occultation to gather data. BCT, meanwhile, will build the spacecraft and integrate all the systems at its east Boulder headquarters.

Founded in 2008 by engineers Matthew Beckner, Steve Steg and Stafford, BCT has supplied components for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a mission to Mars, as well as satellites for various other defense, commercial and academic customers.

BCT has about 20 employees at its 2425 55th St. headquarters, and had more than $3 million in revenue in 2014. Stafford said he expects revenue to grow to more than $5 million this year.

“Together, PlanetiQ and BCT bring the innovation, technical expertise and experience to cost-effectively produce the high-quality data needed to transform the weather-satellite industry and deliver unprecedented economic value,” PlanetiQ president and CEO Anne Hale Miglarese said in a press release.