I never dreamed about success – I worked for it.

“I never dreamed about success – I worked for it.” – Estee Lauder

The first week of the International Space Domain Awareness (#CASDA) cohort was very exciting! The week kicked off with a warm welcome from the Catalyst Accelerator and Catalyst Campus teams before we jumped into cohort member introductions. This was a great opportunity for the cohort to get to know each other a little bit before their Catalyst Accelerator journey began. Programming then started with Mr. F Schnell, Senior Acquisition Manager for the United States Air Force, who gave on overview of the importance of the Space Domain Awareness (SDA) mission within the United States.

The cohort then met each of their Commercial Sherpas over the lunch hour. Gregg Walsh, Business Development Manager at Microsoft supporting their defense space business, is a member of the Catalyst Accelerator family and has been a Commercial Sherpa for all 10 cohorts. Gregg stated, “I am excited to work with this cohort as it represents a great opportunity to build international partnerships and help solve mission challenges to improve a critical mission. The coordination of the government sponsors and the tech these companies can provide could lay a string foundation for shared space domain awareness.”

Sixteen subject matter experts donated their time to speak with the cohort during week one. One of these experts included Sage Andorka, Deputy Chief and Chief Engineer at Space Systems Command (SSC). Sage offered an overview of SSC and the SDA Marketplace. When asked if she could provide the most important takeaway regarding the SDA Marketplace, Sage stated, “The SDA Marketplace is a free platform for commercial companies to advertise and interact with consumers – government and more – to sell data. Built around FAR processes, the SDA Marketplace enables consumers to bid, purchase, and receive specific data within weeks. Built on the security backbone of Space Force’s Unified Data Library, data is secured, and releasability controlled by companies.”

Rob Patterson, President of Business Development at ONE Dev, joined the team on Wednesday to explain the importance of business development and growth strategy. Rob has 40 years of experience within the aerospace industry. The Catalyst Accelerator is grateful to have ONE Dev as the Corporate Sponsor for the International SDA cohort. ONE Dev also sponsored an amazing Happy Hour event that evening at Catalyst Campus to introduce the cohort to the Colorado Springs community.

The cohort companies had the opportunity to meet the Catalyst Accelerator’s Government Lead, Lt Hanson Finley. Lt Finley, along with Lt Kelsey Puttkammer, are the DoD Sherpas for the International SDA cohort. Lt Finley explained, “I’m super excited to be joining the team for the International SDA cohort and guiding our cohort members as a DoD Sherpa. Navigating the USSF structure can be difficult for an outsider and I’m hoping my perspective and network can help take our cohort companies to the next level!” Lt Puttkammer added, “I am excited to join the Catalyst Accelerator team as a DoD Sherpa, and representative of the Space Operations Command, AFRL and SpaceWERX. This week, we on-boarded eight SDA focused companies into the Accelerator. We look forward to facilitating commercial partnerships, in order to provide relevant, timely solutions to the joint-warfighter.”

The Catalyst Accelerator is very lucky to have Mo Kanwischer, President of Momentum Business Consulting, as the Chief Consultant for our program. Mo met with each of the cohort companies during week one to discuss ABC statements and customer discovery. On Friday morning, the International SDA cohort members each gave overviews of their companies and answered questions from their fellow cohort members. This was a marvelous opportunity for each company to understand their fellow cohort companies on a deeper level.

The week ended on a perfect note with a spectacular briefing from Dr. Emily Bohner, System Engineer for the Air Force Research Laboratory. She provided a wonderful overview of Dragon Army Operations. Dr. Bohner explained, “Ultimately what we are doing with Dragon Army Ops Days, SACT, and the JCO is providing a paradigm shift for how we could do acquisitions, especially in leveraging commercial technologies for SDA and other military operations. In this new paradigm we close the feedback loop that has been so absent, especially in software-intensive systems, which has led to leveraging commercial capabilities in record speed. Regarding the international SDA accelerator specifically, we are hoping to extend this success to our global commercial partners working with our allies. There is such growth in the commercial space industry, and we hope to help our allied partners and global commercial partners to leverage and build on what we have done.”

Thank you to each of the subject matter experts who donated their time to speak with the International Space Domain Awareness cohort and answer their questions. The Catalyst Accelerator team is looking forward to what the next on-week has in store!

Author: Kate Menendez, Catalyst Accelerator Marketing Specialist