Catalyst Space Accelerator Community Day: U.S. Air Force, U.S. Space Force, and Commercial Tech

U.S. Air Force and Space Community Discuss U.S. Air Force Changes and Their Impacts

Colorado Springs, Colo – Feb 20, 2020 – The United States Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate’s Catalyst Space Accelerator (CSA) hosted 130 people from around the nation in its third Community Day. Sponsored by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), the event was a day-long conversation about the United States Air Force changes and their impacts.

With a lineup of 15 speakers and panelists, including retired U.S. Air Force Lt Gen David Buck, and several networking breaks, the day provided ample opportunity for the space community to discuss the coming of United States Space Force (USSF) and what it means for the U.S. Air Force.

“There’s this fake thing that we’re all afraid of,” said Buck. “A fake adversary, and this fake adversary is risk. And because of this, we can’t go fast.”

As USSF becomes a concrete reality, and as data becomes central to the space domain, the discussions around rapid innovation and commercial tech couldn’t be more relevant for CSA’s Data Fusion cohort.

David Blanks, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) liaison to USSF, spoke to the importance of technology development in the commercial sector: “Not for technology’s sake. The use of commercial technology has to be to enhance that mission, and that’s where we get back to data.”

NOW SPACE: NORMALIZE, OPTIMIZE, WIN.
Keynote Speaker Lt Gen (ret) David Buck, now President and CEO of Buck Consulting Group, advocated for what he called “NOW Space”: Normalize, Optimize, and Win in space.

To do that, he said, the U.S. Military needs to “take space services and make them a routine. Like an airline, servicing your car, using your smart phone or accessing the internet.” And “partnering with industry is a must-do” because industry, said Buck, has “the capabilities to provide non-traditional solutions.”

Amidst an open floor for questions from the audience, Buck also gave insight on what role USSF will play in warfighting, and how it will work with the U.S. Air Force.

U.S. Space Force, he said, will likely be smaller than the other services, but this brings inherent agility. It will have ability to train its own warfighters and maintain readiness. “We’re going to grow indigenous space intel professionals. We’re going to get you, train you, and have a career track for you.”

USSF’s operational focus will be Orbital Warfare, Electronic Warfare, Battle Management, and Access and Sustainment. The U.S. Air Force will work closely with USSF in Logistics, Plans and Requirements, and Mission Support.

“A core takeaway is that we are going to take advantage of indigenous capabilities in the U.S. Air Force,” said Buck.

THE URGENCY OF WINNING SPACE
A representative from the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Directorate, Headquarters USSF spoke to the urgency of developing U.S. space capabilities. According to this representative, Russia, China, and Iran are all developing their own, and they pose real threats to U.S. space assets at all levels: “space, ground, and link/command.”

One panel spoke to the importance of making both U.S. Air Force and USSF the kind of organizations that will win in space. “We have to convince people that U.S. Space Force is something that is long-term, that it’s not going to go away,” said Mike Pierson, Chief of Public Engagements at HQ USSF. Maj Gen (ret) Jay Lindell, the Aerospace & Defense Industry Champion with OEDIT, added, “The combatant unified command, U.S. Space Command is an important basing decision for Colorado. US Space Command generates the capabilities and requirements needed to defend the nation in the space domain. Businesses will cluster to where those requirements are generated to help inform what is technically feasible as well as the timeline and cost to provide capabilities. It is a mutual, enhancing relationship for the Command; great for defense, great for business, great for Colorado.”
According to Bill Woolf, Executive Director of the Space Force Association, U.S. Space Force needs to take the aspects of U.S. Air Force culture where “the Captain or Technical Sergeant who has to accomplish the space superiority mission stands in front of all the generals and says, ‘These are the capabilities I need to accomplish this mission. Don’t ask me to do my mission until I have these capabilities.’”

THE WINNING INGREDIENT
Advanced technology doesn’t matter if it doesn’t get to the warfighter. But getting it to the warfighter isn’t easy when the approach to innovation is siloed. AF CyberWorx Director, Col William Waynick, put it succinctly: “We have lots of innovation capabilities/cells in the Air Force. Ideally, we need to normalize innovation where it’s part of our daily lives and not something special we do. The ability to scale innovation across the Air Force is something I would love to know how to do.”

Maj Rob Slaughter, Director of Platform One, said that when he joined the Air Force in 2012 they faced this problem of not being able to get the technology they needed: “I see you and you see me, but I have no idea how to get you on contract.” But things are changing. “All of us here,” said Slaughter, “everyone in this room, are about closing that gap.”

To Slaughter, fast and flexible contracting is one answer to the problem. “My favorite tool right now is the AFWERX Open Topic,” a method for small businesses to bring their ideas to the U.S. Air Force and potentially get on contract quickly.

But better contracting tools are not the only answer. “To me, as an organization as a whole,” said Slaughter, “you have to ask how you can do a better job of retaining the people you have. The longer we keep people, the more people we can affect.”

A final panel for the day, filled with leaders in the Colorado Springs community, spoke about the impact of locating U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs, and why it makes sense: “The State has invested a significant amount of money in local infrastructure,” said Col (ret) Ron Fitch, UCHealth Southern Regional VP for Operations and Military Affairs. Donald Addy, Chairman of the Colorado Thirty Group (CTG) added, “We must not allow interruptions of our space defense assets to occur simply for the purpose of relocating to some other location.”

The CSA is seeking to address multiple issues when it comes to getting innovation to the warfighter. The Accelerator’s eight cohort companies, all with technology centered around data fusion, are being given the resources they need to develop their technology and transition it into the military. Visit the CSA’s website to read more about the Accelerator and its current cohort.

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About Catalyst Space Accelerator
The Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate’s Catalyst Space Accelerator is a NewSpace-focused defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. CCTI is a collaborative ecosystem where industry, small business, entrepreneurs, startups, government, academia, and venture capital intersect with Colorado’s aerospace and defense industry to create community, spark innovation and stimulate business growth. The Catalyst Space Accelerator is a collaborative program hosted by CCTI, a Colorado 501(c)3), funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate with current corporate sponsor, Microsoft, to provide a robust, mentor-driven curriculum for accelerator teams.

For more information:
Catalyst Space Accelerator Media Relations, Mrs. Dana Speed, dana.speed@catalystcampus.org,
719-394-0606

 

 

Tech Startups, Small Businesses Present Technologies to the Air Force at the Catalyst Space Accelerator Demo Day

Tech Startups, Small Businesses Present Technologies to the Air Force at the Catalyst Space Accelerator Demo Day
The Accelerator’s Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance cohort graduates 8 companies

 

Colorado Springs, CO, Nov 26, 2019  — Last Thursday, the Catalyst Space Accelerator (CSA) program successfully concluded its fourth Accelerator with its eight companies pitching their space-based Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) technologies to an audience of government stakeholders, investors, commercial companies and warfighters.

The CSA Demo Day hosted nearly 150 people, including distinguished visitors like Maj Gen William Liquori, Director of Strategic Requirements, Architectures and Analysis at Air Force Space Command; Col Eric Felt, Director of Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV); and Mr. Michael Dickey, Air Force Space Command Chief Architect at Air Force Space Command.

The companies, who completed the rigorous 3-month-long Accelerator program, developed their product offerings based on hundreds of hours of customer discovery and business training to better meet the needs of operators in the Air Force and the broader Department of Defense (DoD).

“I didn’t think something so productive could be so fun and engaging,” said Dan Brophy of Capella Space – one of the participating ISR companies – about the CSA.

Thursday’s Demo Day was sponsored by Ball Aerospace. Companies like Ball, and all the others who supported the Accelerator through sponsorships and mentorship, are what make up CSA’s community. KiMar Gartman, CSA Director, acknowledged that “we need our community to make the Accelerator successful.”

The Tech Problem

This cohort’s problem statement asked how commercial industry could address and improve Air Force and DoD applications in space-based ISR.

The person who wrote the problem statement for the ISR cohort – Dr. Wellesley Pereira, ISR Mission Lead at AFRL/RV – said the Air Force needed to address this area to make sure U.S. warfighters are well-equipped: “Ultimately, we’re trying to help that pilot in the cockpit.”

“[AFRL] has a lot of red tape,” said Pereira. “So, we wanted to see what would happen with small companies in 11 weeks, see if they can come up with something that we can tie into our mission.”

He said he is optimistic about the technologies matured in the Accelerator making it into the hands of the warfighter, but that is still to be seen: “Can they, because of being in the Accelerator and making connections in the Air Force, take their technology to the next level? If they can, then we have done our job as an Accelerator.”

The Small Business Pitches

Each company’s pitch demonstrated how their product could help the warfighter, offering better data delivery, saved man-power hours, and even cost-savings for the Air Force.

For instance, Space-Eyes tracks illegal and suspicious activity in the maritime environment. Space-Eyes Captain Jatin Bains said, “The Battlespace is going to be obfuscated, and it is up to us to have better ISR and better awareness to combat these threats.”

MemComputing offered to take optimization problems that take supercomputers hours, days, and even weeks to compute and solve them in seconds. Their ask? “Bring us your problems.”

ExoTerra Imaging, who is creating smaller satellites so that more can be put in space to create comprehensive surveillance, asked for Air Force units who would sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) so they could show investors that that the Air Force is truly interested in using this product. Raising more commercial investment would then disperse the cost of developing their dual-use technology.

HyperVerge, Inc, a deep-learning startup, asked for opportunities to demo their change-tracking product: “Help us lead this technology to the warfighter.”

The companies who pitched include:

The Demo Day audience also received the first formal announcement of the next CSA cohort focus: Data Fusion for Space Applications, which will kick off in January 2020. Interested companies can attend the 2020 Launch Luncheon at Catalyst Campus on December 11th to learn how to participate in the next cohort. Contact KiMar Gartman at kimar.gartman@catalystcampus.org for an invitation to the lunch.

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About Catalyst Space Accelerator

The AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate Catalyst Space Accelerator is a NewSpace-focused defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Catalyst Campus is a collaborative ecosystem where industry, small business, entrepreneurs, startups, government, academia, and venture capital intersect with Colorado’s aerospace and defense industry to create community, spark innovation and stimulate business growth. The Catalyst Space Accelerator is a collaborative program hosted by Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI, a Colorado 501(c)3) in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory and Space Capital Colorado to provide a robust, mentor-driven curriculum for accelerator teams.

Bigs and Smalls Collide at Innovation Community Days

Bigs and Smalls Collide at Innovation Community Days
Themes of Innovation and Synergy Emerge as Primes and Small Business Work Together to Meet Warfighter Needs

 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo – October 30, 2019 –  Despite snow delays, the Catalyst Space Accelerator (CSA) hosted its largest Innovation Community Days yet, bringing in nearly 200 people from small businesses, large primes, and military units and program offices all for one goal: find opportunities to work together to advance technology for the warfighter.

Attendees and participants packed into Catalyst Campus’s historic Harvey House for one and a half days to hear pitches from 16 small businesses and startups, interact with four panels of innovators from both industry and government, and spend time networking with individuals from every pocket of the space community.

“When you have industry, government and military leaders sharing ideas and insights on collaborative innovation, you know there will be great things happening,” said KiMar Gartman, CSA’s Program Director. “This event brought together great minds and we all walked away excited with the possibilities of what lies ahead.”

This year’s Innovation Community Days were sponsored by Lockheed Martin and hosted by the Catalyst Space Accelerator and Starburst. Tim Ford, Lockheed Martin Military Space Business Development, explained that Lockheed Martin became involved with the Accelerator because of the Prime’s “responsibility to advance technology” and, ultimately, “the capabilities of our nation.” One of the ways they fulfill that responsibility, he said, was through “ensuring a vibrant industrial base” by supporting small business through investments, partnering, and mentoring.

Keynote Speaker Colonel Russell Teehan, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center Portfolio Architect, spoke on the necessity of having many companies to support the Air Force’s Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Enterprise Architecture in today’s contested Space environment.

“There are many layers in the ISR architecture that need to be seamlessly stitched together in the data architecture,” Teehan said. “[As a small business,] Don’t assume the US Air Force is doing that perfectly yet.”

This task is why the Air Force invests in accelerators and other small business programs, said Teehan: “You have to create opportunities for people to collide and discuss ideas. It’s about creating that ecosystem where we all talk about where we think we’re going.”

Panel members came from every sector of the innovation community – including members from primes such as Lockheed Martin and Ball Aerospace, Air Force and Army units, and entrepreneurs now working with the government through their startups and small businesses. Presenters also included innovators from the Air Force Academy and CU Boulder.

The varying viewpoints allowed attendees to hear and discuss successes, failures, pain points, and why innovating despite barriers matters.

“We need to find the right balance between speed and finding the right people to make the best solution,” said panelist Greg Bennett of Air Force CyberWorx.

Among the presenters was also 16 different startups and small businesses – eight selected by Starburst and eight from the current CSA cohort. The event gave them the opportunity to connect with potential investors or partners to further the development of their technologies.

Despite snow on the second day, causing a delayed start and Brigadier General Thomas James, of U.S. Space Command, to be unable to attend, participants came away from the event inspired.

“The ecosystem that’s happening at places like Catalyst [Campus] will move us forward – innovation like this will allow us to bring technology to the warfighter quickly and efficiently, and ultimately to save lives” said Brandon Florian, Starburst Business Development and Corporate Relations Director.

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About Catalyst Space Accelerator

The AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate Catalyst Space Accelerator is a NewSpace-focused defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Catalyst Campus is a collaborative ecosystem where industry, small business, entrepreneurs, startups, government, academia, and venture capital intersect with Colorado’s aerospace and defense industry to create community, spark innovation and stimulate business growth. Catalyst Space Accelerator is a collaborative program hosted by Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI, a Colorado 501(c)3), Space Capital Colorado, and the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory to provide a robust, mentor-driven curriculum for accelerator teams.

Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance: Eight ISR Small Businesses Join Catalyst Space Accelerator

Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance: Eight ISR Small Businesses Join Catalyst Space Accelerator

Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Accelerator at Catalyst Campus will Host Its Fourth Accelerator

 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo – Sep 5, 2019 – This fall, eight companies from around the country will convene in Colorado Springs for the Catalyst Space Accelerator’s fourth cohort, centered around space-based Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR).

 

The Catalyst Space Accelerator (CSA), sponsored by Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate, was created to advance technology for our warfighters. By boosting companies’ technology development and guiding them through working with the government, the Accelerator benefits both the economy and the warfighter. For this cohort, the Air Force is seeking to encourage commercially-viable solutions for its space-based ISR needs.

 

The strength of the CSA lies in its extensive but accelerated customer discovery. Because of its co-location in Colorado Springs with Air Force Space Command and several military bases, the CSA provides the ideal intersection of government entities and commercial expertise. What normally can take up to two years is reduced to a few weeks, allowing companies to speak with potential customers and refine their technology for specific use cases.

 

Starting on September 10, the cohort of companies will meet at Catalyst Campus every other week for 11 weeks. They will participate in workshops, work with government and commercial Sherpas, have access to the campus’ extensive collaborative ecosystem, and receive seed investment by Space Capital Colorado.

 

Out of 27 applicants, Space Capital Colorado selected the following eight small businesses to participate in the space-based ISR cohort:

 

Capella Space advances earth observation as an essential tool for commerce, conservation and security. Their vision is a world that shares a richer understanding of life on our planet. They provide the most frequent and timely Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data for monitoring change on Earth and are building a constellation of 36 small satellites that provide hourly earth monitoring at resolutions of less than 1 meter. With flexible imaging modes and low latency ordering from tasking to downlink to delivery, Capella Space offers a new experience for high resolution earth observation across many different markets.

https://www.capellaspace.com/

 

Chandah Space Technologies (CST) is a U.S. company focused on building and operating a constellation of small satellites, called InsureSats, geared towards commercial in-orbit inspection and space situational awareness. The company is licensed for Non-Earth Imaging by the U.S. Department of Commerce. CST’s management and Board have a strong record of commercial value creation and service in the U.S. Government.

http://www.chandah.com/

 

ExoTerra Imaging was created to provide a rapid and cost-effective capability for Global Cloud observations, which are critical for nearly all Department of Defense-related ISR, logistical, and tactical operations. Although these observations have served a critical function for over 40 years through the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), an improved follow-on capability is critically needed. The ExoTerra Imaging team has been engaged over the last several years in developing commercial alternatives for these critical need observations. Now they hope to use the Catalyst Accelerator to identify VC investment to build, launch, and operate a commercial system to meet new DoD requirements on a sustainable and cost-effective basis.

https://exoterracorp.com/

 

HyperVerge Inc, a Silicon Valley-based deep-learning startup funded by NEA, Milliways Ventures, and Nava Ventures, has developed patent-pending technology for real-time analysis of images and videos obtained from sources such as satellites, surveillance cameras, and documents. Their models lead the market with top accuracy values on many important datasets and are optimized for deployments in real-world low bandwidth environments and in cases with limited availability of training data. Deep-learning networks built by HyperVerge are powering applications for large enterprise clients in Defense, Energy, and Financial Services, ranging from processing 35M customers a month using their face recognition-based identity verification stack to extracting the entire energy infrastructure of Texas with 99% accuracy using satellite imagery.

https://hyperverge.co/

 

Kleos delivers geolocated Radio Frequency data from its own Low Earth Orbit Satellites, initially in the maritime VHF Band, to disrupt illegal fishing, smuggling, trafficking and defense, security, and border challenges. Kloes geolocates VHF transmissions without reference to tracking systems such as Automatic Identification System (AIS) to reveal dark, unseen, and covert maritime activity. The data is complimentary to AIS and can tip and cue Synthetic Aperture Radar, Electro-Optical, and airbreathing assets. The data, provided as-a-Service, is reliable, repeatable, and easy to ingest. Kleos’ collection capability will grow to near real-time by launching further satellites with enhanced payloads driven by customer needs. The data will be offered at a variety of levels from raw to processed to be analytic ready.

https://kleos.space/

 

MemComputing is disrupting the High-Performance Computing market with their MemCPU™ XPC Cloud SaaS, which reduces the compute time from hours to seconds for today’s most complex optimization problems like those related to routing, scheduling, and machine learning. This product drives hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in efficiencies directly to the bottom line.

https://memcpu.com/

 

Rhea Space Activity (RSA), based in Washington, D.C., is an astro-consultancy founded to assist NewSpace companies in creating high-risk/high-reward R&D concepts in support of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) and Department of Defense (DoD). RSA ideates, guides, and advises NewSpace clients, allowing them to maintain and grow their own R&D portfolio. RSA has successfully secured funding for several of its clients in the areas of in-space propulsion, on-orbit robotics, in-space manufacturing, space-based LIDAR, asteroid mining, and directed energy. The RSA foundational team is comprised of energetic, U.S. Government-connected astrophysicist and aerospace engineers who are deeply committed to the creation of technologies that enhance U.S. national security capabilities. RSA’s latest technology innovation, RUBY SKY, is an effort to develop a large aperture reconnaissance asset on-orbit within a small-satellite form factor.

https://www.rheaspaceactivity.com/#

 

Space-Eyes provides on-demand tasking to a Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite. Its collections across all weather and lighting conditions are integrated with contextual data and analyzed automatically for threats in the maritime domain. The online Space-Eyes platform will also use Amazon’s new ground stations, which will substantially reduce latency to enhance the ISRPED life-cycle. Space-Eyes currently offers capacity with one radar satellite operational and plans to have a constellation of 5 Radar satellites.

http://channellogistics.com/

 

For those interested in supporting the Accelerator, sponsorships are still available. There are several levels of sponsorship available, each providing various levels of exposure for the sponsor to audiences of high-level public and private decision makers.

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About Catalyst Space Accelerator

The AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate Catalyst Accelerator is a NewSpace-focused defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Catalyst Campus is a collaborative ecosystem where industry, small business, entrepreneurs, startups, government, academia, and venture capital intersect with Colorado’s aerospace and defense industry to create community, spark innovation and stimulate business growth. Catalyst Space Accelerator is a collaborative program hosted by Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI, a Colorado 501(c)3), Space Capital Colorado, and the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory to provide a robust, mentor-driven curriculum for accelerator teams.

Pentagon Seeks Commercial Solutions To Space-Based Intel

Aviation Week

The U.S. Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) and Colorado Springs-based Catalyst Space Accelerator are planning a three-month workshop this fall to explore space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) technology. Participants from small businesses and commercial startups with skills to address a range of technology challenges in the national security arena are encouraged to apply for the 12-week gathering, scheduled for Sept. 9–Nov. 22. The workshop will be hosted by …

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Catalyst Campus Overflows for AFRL Space Accelerator Demo Day

Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation Hosts Third Demo Day for Catalyst Space Accelerator

Catalyst Campus, Colorado Springs, Colorado – July 2, 2019 – The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) Space Vehicle Directorate’s Catalyst Space Accelerator held its third Demo Day on June 27, 2019 at the Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation in downtown Colorado Springs. The seven companies in the Resilient Commercial Space Communications Cohort were granted a unique opportunity to pitch their innovative, disruptive technologies to an overflowing audience of government and corporate strategic investors, Space Communications subject matter experts, and venture capitalists.

The crowd filled the historic Harvey House event center as well as a second large meeting room. After brief opening remarks by Catalyst Campus Executive Director Rich Burchfield, Program Director KiMar Gartman, and Government Lead Lt David Buehler, the beautifully-prepared, smoothly-honed presentations articulated each company’s mission, vision and technology for the largest audience to date for a Catalyst Space Accelerator Demo Day.

Cohort and Programming
In selecting this cohort, the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate and the Catalyst Space Accelerator were looking for non-traditional companies that could contribute to a suite of options to augment, supplement, backup, complement, and/or improve current space communication capabilities. Participating companies received seed funding from Space Capital Colorado, a Catalyst-endowed accelerator fund, as well as direct access to operational experts and stakeholders from the United States Air Force and other government agencies, and from the Catalyst Campus, SBDC TechSource and PTAC national network of mentors, partners and investors.

Catalyst Space Accelerator offers a robust program of workshops, customer discovery, and networking events. The Customer Discovery process allows participants to gain a better understanding of the commercial market and customers, the warfighter needs and the DoD market, and the DoD acquisition processes. Companies are assigned Air Force Sherpas to help them make military connections, while Commercial Sherpas help with commercial contacts. The programming includes hours of “pitch practice” under the expert guidance of the Accelerator’s partner, SBDC TechSource, which was evident as the presentations began.

OPTERUS RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT, Loveland, Colorado

The first presentation was a pre-recorded video by Dr. Tom Murphey, CEO and Founder of Opterus. Opterus gives small spacecraft the performance of big spacecraft through rapid innovations in deployable and unfolding structures ranging from high precision, frequency and gain parabolic RF reflectors to extremely large area antennas, solar sails, and sun shades.

Dr. Murphey explained that Opterus pioneered High Strain Composites (HSC) and is the industry’s leading innovator in developing new HSC materials, structures, and low-cost manufacturing technologies. Opterus’ HSCs achieve bending strains 2x greater than previously used materials enabling 8x greater deployment forces with 5x greater mass efficiency and 20x greater dimensional stability. Opterus leverages these two technologies to develop exceptionally high performance and dimensionally stable deployable structures. (www.opterusrd.com)

OMNISPACE, Tysons, Virginia

The next presentation was given by Campbell Marshall, Vice President of International Market Development of Omnispace. Omnispace owns/operates a global, non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellite system harnessing 60Mhz of globally harmonized S-band spectrum and a network of worldwide ground stations. Mr. Marshall discussed how the Omnispace pole-to-pole communications system permits seamless transitions between urban, rural and maritime domains. They use Ancillary Terrestrial Component technology to leverage their 2 GHz spectrum, which sits adjacent to global LTE cellular frequencies. This enables mobile and IoT devices to move seamlessly between existing terrestrial cellular networks and Omnispace’s NGSO satellite constellation.

The audience learned that, for the military, the Omnispace network provides a spectrally efficient, scalable, low-latency, global communications platform, bringing mobile connectivity beyond the limits of cellular coverage between all domains. Commercially, Omnispace brings reliable mobile connectivity to the fields of transportation and logistics, energy, public safety, health, and agriculture.  (www.omnispace.com)

XENESIS, Chicago, Illinois
Xenesis’ Founder and CEO, Mark LaPenna, followed with a presentation about Xenesis, which represents to spectrum what broadband represented to dial-up 30 years ago. He discussed Xen-HubTM, a compact, reduced-complexity, low-cost laser communications transceiver for downlinking data from Earth-orbiting spacecraft, point-to-point communications and private networking.

Working together with NASA, JPL, CalTech, Georgia Tech, Atlas Space Operations and Laser Light Communications, Xenesis is positioned to solve the New Space satellite communications problem by offering low cost & high bandwidth Space-to-Ground optical data transport. The technology has numerous applications and the presentation fully supported the claim on the Xenesis website that they “control the most cutting-edge NASA Space-to-Ground communications technology.” (www.xenesis.io)

ANALYTICAL SPACE, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Gil Valdes, Business Development Lead, presented for Analytical Space, Inc. (ASI). ASI is a satellite communications company that leverages hybrid RF-laser communications technology. They are launching a satellite relay network that will provide the first secure, reliable, high-speed data connection for Earth observation satellites. By uploading to this network, satellite operators will have access to more of their data more quickly, all while using their existing hardware.

The process is very simple: client satellites collect data, then offload it to ASI relays using RF. ASI crosslinks the client data between relays in orbit, then downlinks it using RF and laser. The data relays are backwards compatible across a wide range of radio frequencies, have extremely high throughput, and very low latency that decreases with each relay satellite added to the network. The many commercial and military applications include asset tracking, hyperspectral imaging, and weather forecasting. (www.analyticalspace.com)

ATLAS Space Operations, Traverse City, Michigan
Ryan Clulo, FreedomTM Software Engineer, presented ATLAS Space Operations’ global communication and data services that leverage cloud-based intelligence to lower cost and deliver simple, secure, and scalable value-added solutions. He described how ATLAS’ cloud-based FreedomTM software interconnects and powers their globally expansive network of 31 operational and planned ground antennas with secure access to data to and from space, with a high data flow and low latency.

The features of their services include secure access to any space or ground asset through a single VPN entry point; scalability, so clients can transmit, receive and store data for a single spacecraft or mega constellations; and data and analytics with dozens of metrics every two seconds per pass. (www.atlasground.com)

SKYLOOM, Berkeley, California
Santiago Tempone, co-founder and CTO of Skyloom, discussed Skyloom’s development of a spaceborne optical data transfer network leveraging small geostationary relay satellites to provide 24×7 high capacity communications services for low Earth orbit constellations, whether observing or communicating with the planet. This infrastructure allows Skyloom’s customers to move massive amounts of information immediately, allowing for real-time insights and applications.

Skyloom eliminates the data transfer bottleneck caused by the current low data rates for radio-based links for smallsats, the limited contact satellites currently have with ground stations, and by the enormous amounts of expensive power required to transmit. Their solution’s unique architecture and infrastructure allow them to offer high capacity, immediacy and flexibility in data plans to LEO constellations. (www.skyloom.co)

SPEQTRAL QUANTUM TECHNOLOGIES (SQT), Denver, Colorado
SQT, Speqtral Quantum Technologies, was represented by CEO David Mitlyng, who started off dramatically by saying, “We deliver a magic box that provides an unspoofable, unhackable link for your secure network. We are the only company outside of China with a space-qualified entangled photon source: i.e., a magic box.”

Mr. Mitlyng went on to explain the intricacies of quantum communications, including photon entanglement and its applications to space communications, focusing on Quantum Key Distribution and secure Quantum Clock Synchronization. The former is a more secure form of encryption, that thwarts eavesdropping and spoofing, as opposed to public key encryption – which is much more vulnerable to advances in computing – or couriers, who bring their own security problems and inconveniences. Quantum Clock Synchronization allows for unspoofable time transfer for PNT and has precise accuracy to within <100 picoseconds.

To illustrate the power of quantum technologies, Mr. Mitlyng quoted Dr. Krysta Svore, of Microsoft Research: “The RSA-2048 Challenge Problem would take 1 billion years with a classical computer. A quantum computer could do it in 100 seconds.” (www.linkedin.com/company/speqtral-quantum-technologies/)

Reaction
Silently fascinated, the audience seemed deeply interested in each space communications technology as it was explained. As Accelerator Government Lead Lt Buehler observed, “The companies absolutely nailed their pitches and many of the guests I spoke with said that they enjoyed the event and were blown away by the technology presented.”

Ryan Clulo of ATLAS Space Operations, who was a presenter, was very enthusiastic about both Demo Day and the entire program: “I thought today’s presentation was great. I was very appreciative to the SBDC [Accelerator partner the Small Business Development Center] for helping me develop that pitch. The Accelerator has been a great experience for me; it is certainly a huge jumpstart to get this kind of business experience as an engineer, so I have been honored to participate. As engineers we talk at a high level about what ground systems need to do, and we think we have an innovative idea, but to come out here and to see what other companies are doing – well, it’s been a lot of fun for me personally, and has been a great experience for the company.”

The Honorable Sue Payton, former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisitions, enjoyed a front-row seat. Afterwards, she said she was interested in “the synergy that you could see across all these companies, especially after they have worked together. And with a systems engineer like Lt Buehler showing us the OV-1 [High Level Operational Concept Graphic] of how all these systems came together – that was brilliant.”

Heidi Wright, General Manager of Technical Marketing at Braxton Technologies and a member of a previous cohort, commented that “being on the audience-side of Demo Day was very different than being on the cohort-side. Knowing all the hard work that these companies have put in prior to this culmination, I have an immense respect for them and their dedication to changing the way space communications is done going forward.”

Sponsorships and Sherpas

Companies can champion the Accelerator program through various levels of sponsorship. Sponsors are acknowledged on our website, social media, and throughout the community.

Catalyst Space Accelerator and the Resilient Commercial Space Communications Cohort are very grateful to generous Demo Day sponsors Harris Corporation and BBVA.

Catalyst Space Accelerator is also grateful to the Commercial Sherpas, who gave their time to assist the cohort. The Sherpas were from Viasat, Microsoft, Deloitte, SEAKR Engineering and LinQuest. The Accelerator is always seeking Commercial Sherpas to assist with future cohorts; please visit https://catalystaccelerator.space/partners/.

 

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About Catalyst Space Accelerator
The AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate Catalyst Accelerator is a Space-focused defense and national security industry accelerator. Headquartered on the Catalyst Campus, a collaborative ecosystem in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Catalyst Space Accelerator is a public-private partnership hosted by the Center for Technology, Research, and Commercialization (C-TRAC), Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI), the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) TechSource, Space Capital Colorado, and the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory to provide a robust, mentor-driven curriculum for accelerator teams. https://catalystaccelerator.space

 

Catalyst Space Accelerator Alumni Achieving Great Heights

CSA’s Two Initial Cohorts Continue to Scoop Up SBIRs and Contracts

Colorado Springs, Colo – May 28, 2019 – At Catalyst Space Accelerator, our alumni companies are central to our ever-growing network of outstanding commercial partners, and we are always excited when they build upon the successes achieved during their time at the Space Accelerator. Right now, several alumni companies have some great news to report:

Echo Ridge LLC of Sterling, Virginia, which participated in our Positioning, Navigation and Timing Cohort in 2018 (https://www.echoridgenet.com/), focuses on wireless applications such as communications systems, position/navigation/timing, electronic warfare and modeling/simulation/test. President Joe Kennedy is proud to announce that Echo Ridge was selected for not just one, but two different Small Business Innovation Research grants (SBIR):

Echo Ridge was selected for a Phase II SBIR (AF182-002 F2-10745) for their work in Innovative Positioning, Navigation & Timing (IPNT). Phase I of this SBIR was the basis for Echo Ridge’s participation in the PNT Cohort of the Catalyst Space Accelerator and created a detailed plan for a trial implementation of their proposed solution. The Phase II SBIR seeks to expand the addressable (DoD and Commercial) market segments by providing test and demonstration opportunities for prospective customers.

Echo Ridge has also been awarded a Phase I SBIR from AFWERX (https://www.afwerx.af.mil/) in association with their IPNT work. They qualified to compete for this SBIR based on their participation in the Catalyst Campus accelerator. With this SBIR, Echo Ridge will conduct a feasibility study towards providing a comprehensive tactical-edge electromagnetic environment (EME) situational awareness (SA) capability that includes PNT and blue comms “weather”, red/gray activity, blue/red/gray proximity, alt nav, etc., in a military-suitable form factor for size, weight & power (SWaP)-constrained platforms.

Gareth Block is CEO of Third Insight of Austin, Texas, which also participated in the PNT Cohort late last year. Third Insight builds software that enables “Thinking Drones.” Third Insight’s HALO platform provides vision-based navigation for UAVs and drones and for its Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance analytics tools, enabling drones to perform a variety of autonomous tasks indoors and outdoors without requiring GPS for positioning.

Dr. Block reports that since completing the Catalyst Space Accelerator in December 2018, five short months ago, the company, impressively, has won two SBIRs and a government contract:

  • Third Insight won a US Air Force (USAF) Phase II SBIR focused on building and deploying their autonomous navigation platform for UAVs for the purpose of automated aircraft inspection
  • They won a USAF Phase I SBIR with AFWERX (https://www.afwerx.af.mil/) focused on customer discovery for use cases related to their computer vision analytics and machine learning product line
  • They won their third contract with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to test and expand their core autonomous navigation platform for First Responders

SaraniaSat of Los Angeles, California was one of several stand-outs among the Catalyst Space Accelerator’s inaugural cohort, the Terrestrial Weather Cohort, in early 2018. Their participation in the Space Accelerator was followed shortly with becoming subcontractor to a $5.1 million NASA InVEST contract. SaraniaSat was originally founded by former NASA scientist Dr. Tom George to address a Grand Challenge facing the agricultural industry, to break through the “logjam” blocking widespread acceptance of satellite remote-sensing data and information products by the industry. Since participating in the Catalyst Space Accelerator, SaraniaSat has greatly expanded interest in their remote-sensing technologies among both government and commercial entities.

Since we last heard from him, Dr. George is pleased to announce that SaraniaSat has won another SBIR award in this latest round. It was in response to the Airforce SBIR topic AF191-006 “6U CubeSat EO/IR Solutions for Operational Weather Demo” (https://www.sbir.gov/sbirsearch/detail/1531771). Their proposal was entitled “CLOUD 6” for satellite-based cloud characterization.

Guidestar Optical Systems of Longmont, Colorado also joined Catalyst Space Accelerator for the Terrestrial Weather Cohort. Chief Engineer Dr. Aaron Buckner is now happy to report that a bare week ago, Guidestar was selected to participate in the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade Advanced Industries Accelerator Grant Program with an award of $249,961. According to Dr. Buckner, “Our participation in the Catalyst Accelerator was a major contributor to Guidestar’s ability to secure this award.”

Guidestar’s adaptive optics technology addresses the ground-to-space optical communications needs of companies, enabling them to transmit large amounts of data more quickly, reducing latency of data availability to ground-based operations, and circumventing challenges in obtaining RF spectrum permits required for data transmission relying on slower radio transmission of data. Guidestar’s technology also addresses the backhaul network connectivity challenge in terrestrial 5G networks.

Catalyst Space Accelerator’s Program Director KiMar Gartman feels “It’s immensely satisfying to see the companies grow from where they were in the Accelerator to now as they are scaling their businesses and helping to solve some of our most difficult technical challenges.”

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About Catalyst Space Accelerator
The AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate Catalyst Accelerator is a Space-focused defense and national security industry accelerator. Headquartered on the Catalyst Campus, a collaborative ecosystem in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Catalyst Space Accelerator is a public-private partnership hosted by the Center for Technology, Research, and Commercialization (C-TRAC), Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI), the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) TechSource, Space Capital Colorado, and the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory to provide a robust, mentor-driven curriculum for accelerator teams. https://catalystaccelerator.space

 

Space Invades Colorado Springs: Catalyst Campus & C-TRAC Respond

Campus Open House Hosts Dr. Will Roper,  Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics; Space Symposium Booth Features Campus Virtual Reality Tours; Catalyst Space Accelerator Kicks Off Third Cohort; Catalyst Campus Set to Expand

Colorado Springs, Colo – April 25, 2019 – A busy two weeks of Space-related activities filled Catalyst Campus, including an Open House supported by the Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI) & the Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization (C-TRAC) and crowned by an exciting and successful visit from Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

Scheduled to coincide with the 35th Space Symposium, where CCTI and C-TRAC hosted a booth, activities on the Campus ranged from a catered Open House, with tours of facilities normally closed to the public, to the capstone, Dr. Roper’s visit, which proved so captivating it lasted an hour longer than originally planned. The nationally acclaimed Catalyst Space Accelerator also kicked off its third cohort in concert with these events, including sending the cohort to do some intense networking at the Space Symposium as part of the Accelerator’s programming. Finally, Catalyst Campus set the stage for its next phase of growth by announcing an impressively large expansion to the Campus facilities.

Catalyst Campus Open House

The second annual Catalyst Campus Open House was held Wednesday, April 10, luring Space Symposium attendees with tours of Campus aerospace activities, exhibits by academia, industry and government partners and tenants, and overflowing complimentary hors d’oeuvres and beverages. Despite a weather forecast that included the words “bomb cyclone,” Catalyst Campus Executive Director Rich Burchfield was pleased by the attendance: “To me, our focus on high quality engagement was really important. In addition to the great visitors, I’m really proud of our new relationship with the Upper Arkansas River Valley Technology Partnership, who had a booth this year, folks down in Canon City who are bringing high tech to the rural areas. They see great value in being teamed up with Catalyst Campus.”

Space Symposium Booth

The 35th Space Symposium, held each year in The Broadmoor Hotel by the Space Foundation, is considered to be the premier gathering of space professionals in the world. The CCTI and C-TRAC booth was notable for its Virtual Reality Catalyst Campus Tours, whereby visitors could watch an information-filled wild ride through the Campus while wearing a VR headset. Startling in its 3D tangibility, the virtual reality tours were both great fun and an excellent way to “showcase this beautiful campus,” according to Rich Burchfield, as well as an introduction to the many teaming possibilities inherent to the collaborative ecosystem Catalyst Campus is continuously growing.

Assistant Secretary for the Air Force Visits

The high point of Space Symposium week was a much-anticipated visit from Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. During a revelatory tour of the Campus, Rich Burchfield reports that Dr. Roper turned to Catalyst Campus’ visionary founder, Colorado Springs developer Kevin O’Neil, and said, “I had no idea how mature Catalyst Campus was.” Greatly interested in the innovative work being done by Catalyst Campus’ two non-profits – Catalyst Campus for Innovation and Technology (CCTI) and the Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization (C-TRAC) – for various Air Force programs designed to bring technology to the warfighter faster, Dr. Roper was quoted a few days later in the article “A New Century Series? Will Roper Takes Air Force Back to the Future” praising the innovations represented by the Space CAMP program he toured on Catalyst Campus[1].

When asked about the visit, Campus Executive Director Rich Burchfield waxed eloquent: “It was a wonderful opportunity to get to spend quality time with Dr. Roper to see how invested he is in the acquisition community. It was very rewarding to see his appreciation and understanding of how mature the Campus is, both physically and in the programs we are a part of, and for him to see the value of what we bring to the warfighting community, including our ability to draw in the non-traditional businesses and other commercial entities needed to speed up innovation.”

Catalyst Space Accelerator Kick-Off

Dr. Roper’s visit ended with a Fireside Chat that included the Catalyst Space Accelerator’s current and former participants, as well as some members of the advocacy group SmallSat Alliance (http://smallsatalliance.org/). Featuring an informal talk from Dr. Roper, this Fireside Chat was an unexpected privilege extended to the current, third cohort, which kicked off on Tuesday, April 9.  Focused on Resilient Commercial Space Communications, the third cohort has already learned about a wide array of topics, meeting with various Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) as well as both their Air Force Sherpas and their Commercial Sherpas. Another exciting highlight for the new cohort was the opportunity for a long visit to the Space Symposium.

According to Program Director KiMar Gartman, “The Catalyst Space Accelerator team is excited to welcome these companies, who bring amazing innovative technology to the Accelerator and ultimately to DoD and the warfighter.  Our community is rallying around to help them succeed in every way.”

Catalyst Campus Expansion

Kevin O’Neil, CEO of The O’Neil Group, and Catalyst Campus founder and owner, announced early last week that Catalyst Campus will be adding the neighboring structure, 545 E. Pikes Peak Ave., to its footprint, as well as constructing two new buildings: a mixed use structure that will include offices, restaurants and housing, and an office building, thus almost doubling the Campus to 250,000 square feet. Joining the Campus’ collaborative ecosystem is a high priority for many companies, agencies and organizations, so the current demand for offices has long outstripped supply. Housing and restaurants are envisioned to support and bolster Catalyst Campus’ future plans, as well as current programs, some of which have residential components.[2] This large expansion is a solid expression of Mr. O’Neil’s strong commitment to growing the Campus ecosystem while supporting Colorado/Front Range economic development.

[1] https://breakingdefense.com/2019/04/a-new-century-series-will-roper-takes-air-force-back-to-the-future/

[2] https://gazette.com/business/colorado-springs-space-focus-office-park-doubling-its-size/article_bb203fba-5b1b-11e9-b955-5b642c767ca6.html

About Catalyst Campus

Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI) is a collaborative ecosystem where industry, small business, entrepreneurs, startups, Academia and venture capital intersect with aerospace and defense industries to create community, spark innovation and stimulate business growth. Located in downtown Colorado Springs, Catalyst Campus provides a neutral environment where the Department of Defense can engage with organizations and technologies from multiple companies as needs and threats emerge in various sectors: aerospace, defense and homeland security, cybersecurity, information technology and other advanced technologies. CCTI is a 501 (C)(3) non-profit.

About C-TRAC

The Center for Technology, Research, and Commercialization (C-TRAC) is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves our customers by bringing together the latest technologies from government, education, and industry partners. C-TRAC creates relationships that provide the government customer with rapid development, cutting-edge technology and capabilities that ensure our warfighters achieve and maintain superiority.