Not all Earth science missions may be suited to private development. But where both public and private interests can be served, this approach should be tried. That is our purpose. Consider the attractions:
- Under the discipline of a private venture, mission cost can be lowered dramatically
- When that cost is distributed over dozens or hundreds of user groups, the cost to each can be small
- Users make no outlays until data begins to flow; all risk is incurred by non-government interests
- Users are assured a level of quality, quantity, and timeliness or they don’t pay
- Many small groups with no ability to conduct missions of their own can join as owner-sponsors
- Many more worthy science missions can be carried out than with current approaches
CICERO Data Policy
- Only major near-real-time (NRT) forecasters will be charged for CICERO data
- All CICERO data will be FREE to all researchers worldwide from Day 1
- All CICERO data will be FREE to developing countries from Day 1
- NRT CICERO data will be FREE to all once a worldwide license is subscribed
- Any entity or group is welcome to cover the worldwide license fee
A Chronology of GNSS Radio Occultation and GeoOptics Inc.
Feb 1989 – GGI is selected for funding by NASA; Yunck’s team is awarded a $3M contract to further develop the instrument design and GPSRO data analysis techniques.
1991 – The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in Boulder, CO, and JPL partner on a new proposal, “GPS/MET” (for GPS Meteorology), to the National Science Foundation for a proof-of-concept demonstration of GPSRO as an add-on to a NASA small satellite called MicroLab.
1992 – GPS/MET is funded by the NSF with additional support from NASA. The JPL team, in partnership with Allen Osborne Associates, develops the first GPSRO flight instrument from a JPL GPS ground receiver design.
1993 – As part of an internal JPL mission development program, Yunck proposes the two-satellite GRACE mission to do precise Earth gravity mapping and GPSRO using a single core instrument based on a GPSRO receiver.
4 Apr 1995 – GPS/MET is launched on a Pegasus. The world’s first GPSRO profiles are acquired the next day, on 5 Apr 1995.
1996 – For a new NASA Earth science program, Yunck heads a team proposing a six-satellite GPSRO constellation for monitoring climate change. “GPS/CLIM” receives the top science rating of 44 proposals received. It loses, however, to GRACE, Yunck’s earlier two-satellite combined gravity mapping and GPSRO mission proposal.
1997-2002 – A new generation of GPSRO instrument known as the “BlackJack,” tailored to the RO application, is developed by the JPL team and launched in rapid succession on three international missions: Germany’s CHAMP mission (Jul 2000), Argentina’s SAC-C mission (Nov 2000), and NASA’s GRACE mission, in which Germany is also a partner (May 2002).
2002 – After several years of preliminary study, the six-satellite Taiwan/U.S COSMIC GPSRO mission is approved for full development. Principal U.S. partners are UCAR and the JPL GPSRO team.
2003 – Yunck’s JPL GPSRO team selects avionics startup Broad Reach Engineering (BRE) to produce a commercial version of the BlackJack receiver to fly on COSMIC.
Oct 2005 – GeoOptics is founded to explore the feasibility of a low-cost commercial GPSRO mission (and other low-cost commercial “cellular” Earth remote sensing mission concepts) as a follow-on to COSMIC and as a remedy to the soaring costs and lengthy time delays being encountered by traditional government-funded science missions.
Feb 2006 – Yunck selects BRE to develop a CICERO spacecraft design concept and to supply their new Pyxis™ GPSRO receiver, being developed in house at BRE without JPL support, for the inaugural CICERO spacecraft.
Apr 2006 – The commercial version of the BlackJack, built by BRE in cooperation with JPL, is launched on COSMIC.
Dec 2006 – GeoOptics and BRE sign a partnership agreement to work jointly towards a commercial CICERO mission.
2007 – GeoOptics raises its first $4M from Family & Friends for early system design and to support the ongoing Pyxis™ instrument development at BRE, which later receives substantial funding from the U.S. Air Force as well.
2007 – GeoOptics brings on Mr. Jack Dangermond, founder of ESRI Inc., as a principal investor, partner, and business advisor.
2007 – BRE produces an initial high-level CICERO spacecraft design concept and cost estimate.
2007 – Mr. Glenn Schafer, long-time president of Pacific Life and current Chairman of Janus Capital Group, joins GeoOptics as a Director, investor, and business advisor, and as acting Chief Financial Officer.
2008 – General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Commander and then Chairman of Rodman & Renshaw, a major New York investment bank, joins GeoOptics as a Director, investor, and business advisor.
2008 – GeoOptics is selected by NOAA in a competitive procurement to evaluate commercial acquisition of GPSRO data and develop business and pricing models for commercial government data buys.
2009 – Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, former Under Secretary of Commerce and long-time Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (2001-2008), joins GeoOptics as a Director, investor, and business advisor – later to become GeoOptics CEO.
2010 – GeoOptics teams with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado to support spacecraft development; long-time LASP Director and preeminent space physicist, Dr. Daniel Baker, serves as adjunct Director and science advisor to GeoOptics.
Fall 2011 – Mr. Russell Packer, formerly of Ford Motor Company and Coca-Cola, as well as a former investment banker, joins GeoOptics as full-time Chief Financial Officer.
Aug 2011 – Prof. Gottfried Kirchengast of the University of Graz, Austria, eminent climate scientist, GPSRO pioneer, and member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, joins GeoOptics as a science advisor and Director of European Operations.
Dec 2011 – BRE completes an updated high-level spacecraft design concept, with support from CU/LASP and MMA Design.
Jan 2012 – GeoOptics holds an end-to-end design and cost review for the BRE CICERO spacecraft concept. GeoOptics chooses CU/LASP to lead development of the CICERO spacecraft using their own design and proven low-cost approach.
Feb 2012 – With the Pyxis™ still years from production, GeoOptics switches to the advanced new “Tri-G” GNSSRO instrument, nearing completion at NASA/JPL, for the two Pathfinder spacecraft.
May 2012 – CU/LASP assembles a 30-person engineering team and begins building the Pathfinder spacecraft. Investor total grows to over 100.
July 2012 – GeoOptics enters into an agreement with Virgin Galactic to employ their new LauncherOne, scheduled to become operational in early 2016, as a dedicated launch vehicle for expanding the CICERO constellation to 12 satellites and beyond, after the Pathfinder launch.
Fall 2012 – GeoOptics partners with Yunck’s former R&D section at JPL to co-develop a next-generation, low-power, low-mass, low-cost GNSSRO sensor: the TriG-NT (for New Technology).
Fall 2012 – Mr. Jon Kirchner, veteran of space technology companies Loral Space & Communications, Arqiva Satellite & Media, and Intelsat, as well as information services company Handley Group, joins GeoOptics as President.
Feb 2013 – GeoOptics obtains a license from NASA/Caltech for the rights to build and market the yet-to-be-developed TriG-NT.
Mar 2013 – Dr. Anna Tavormina, long-time JPL planetary flight mission manager (Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn, Magellan mission to Venus) and three-time NASA astronaut candidate finalist, joins GeoOptics as Chief Technical Operating Officer.
Apr 2013 – GeoOptics completes 1st year of CICERO spacecraft development at CU/LASP, with technical support from First RF Corp., and showcases its spacecraft model at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs (shown below).
Please consult the Blog section of this site for up-to-date information on the CICERO spacecraft development at LASP.