FireSat, as conceived by mission-design specialists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), is a non-profit environmental technology project consisting of a constellation of over 200 satellite-installed imaging sensors that will allow for the near real-time detection of global thermal events. FireSat will dramatically improve support for time-critical environmental response decisions (e.g., wildfires, oil spills, eruptions, illegal flaring, etc.) and will provide significant protection to individuals, ecosystems, and livelihoods on a global scale. The FireSat project has received a letter of support from the US Forest Service.
From its viewpoint in low Earth orbit the thermal infrared sensor constellation will sense new and existing fires, oil spills, flares, and other spectrally-discernable events within an average of ~15 minutes. Event characteristics (e.g., perimeter, intensity, movement) will be mapped and relayed to first responders, subscribers, and the general public in near real-time. The FireSat data will be communicated via client GIS software or via a modified version of the JPL-designed Regional Hydrological Extremes Assessment System (FireSat App). FireSat App will equip users with historical, near real-time, and projected thermal event information in addition to hydrological, carbon, and vegetation data from a range of NASA sources. As a further complement, the proposed host satellite constellation will provide the bandwidth required for communications/data coverage in currently low/no-bandwidth areas, significantly hastening opportunities for environmental data collection and sharing.
The FireSat opportunity was identified in May 2015 as a result of a favorable hosted satellite payload "ride-sharing" opportunity. Quadra Pi R2E (Quadra), FireSat's special-purpose project facilitator, has subsequently matured investigations for the project and has now executed a Space Act Agreement with NASA for design work to be done at JPL. JPL is arguably the only organization in the world with the requisite skill set to develop FireSat. In addition, Quadra has executed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation for the oversight of FireSat's production activities. Ecliptic is a recognized world leader in space sensor production development.
The capital development budget for the project is $30 million USD and the project will be fully operational in June 2018. Quadra has identified and solicited $20m in non-US government grant/investment funding and anticipates ~$10m in debt funding as pre-operational licensing contracts are secured. This Kickstarter campaign has been developed to present the FireSat opportunity to the general public to determine whether enough grass-roots interest exists to advance the project. The results of this campaign will serve to mobilize JPL's initial design work and inform participation decisions by other public/private organizations currently contemplating support for the project.
In June 2015, Quadra conducted a market study of North American forestry managers and identified existing satellite data budgets and a significant interest to acquire the projected FireSat data yields. In addition to major government land stewardship agencies, such as the US Forest Service, the Canadian Forest Service, the Department of the Interior, State/Provincial Park agencies, and their equivalent agencies in many countries, supplemental customer/licensees may include: first responders/emergency services agencies, environmental and regulatory groups, insurance companies, legal firms, oil companies, universities, non-governmental agencies, or others not yet identified. Given that the potential annual savings in direct disaster event mitigation costs far exceed the one-time capital cost of the system, it seems logical that the agencies presently responsible for these costs would become paying subscribers in order to save money and gain the benefits of the system’s early detection and near real-time monitoring.
The targeted FireSat payload option is unlikely to present itself again for many years to come, if ever. There are very few organizations that build constellations of >200 satellites, and of these, even fewer who consider hosted payloads. The realization of the project is contingent on: 1) the hosted payload option and its afforded economic/coverage opportunity, 2) the unique technical capacity of the project's contributors to develop the system, 3) public support for the project, and, 4) project funding.
We welcome your support, feedback, and participation. Please help us spread the word by forwarding this campaign to those in your community, the media, and to your local representatives. We are also soliciting formal indications of interest for the licensing of FireSat data. Please visit us at www.firesat.info for detailed project development planning or to contact us, and many thanks for your interest in the FireSat project!
Risks and challenges
The FireSat project poses several unique challenges. Issues related to the hosted payload launch schedule, highly-specialized systems development, and global operations (some occurring in space), will require a high degree of adaptability and technical competence. In addition, and perhaps the most concerning, is the abscence of confirmed public or private funding support for the project.
To mitigate these risks, the project has assembled a team of experts that are the best in the world. FireSat's key contributors have developed balanced planning, inclusive of contingency, to take advantage of this unique and important opportunity and deliver the project on time and under budget.
Grass-roots public support is essential to mobilize the political and funding resources required for the project. We are greatly appreciative of your considered support of this global environmental safety opportunity and look forward to providing a dedicated service in service to the realization of FireSat. Thank you for your consideration of the FireSat project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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