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DIGITAL ENGINEERING FOR SPACE APPLICATIONS:
Modeling and simulation
How might the United States Space Force (USSF) leverage modeling and simulation to improve operator training, system design, acquisition, architecture resilience, and operations?
Modeling and simulation (M&S) is a key enabler of warfighting capabilities. It helps to save lives, save taxpayer dollars, and improve operational readiness. Therefore, the US Space Force, in conjunction with AFRL/RV, is seeking bold and disruptive technologies enabling modeling and simulation to improve operator training, system design, acquisition, architecture resilience, and operations.
ON-ORBIT SERVICING, ASSEMBLY, AND MANUFACTURING
How can we make servicing satellites in space as easy as maintaining your car?
Commercial space sector is beginning to move toward robotic servicing as an integral part of its space architecture. As standardized interfaces become more prevalent throughout the satellite manufacturing industry, costs will inevitably decrease. Standardized plug-and-play capabilities have benefited many industries, such as home computers.
The implications for in-space manufacturing are seemingly limitless. Therefore, the USSF is seeking bold and disruptive technologies enabling on-orbit servicing and manufacturing.
CYBER for Space applications
How might we apply cyber technologies to secure the next generation of space operations and increase resiliency?
While terrestrial cyber security technology development creates a foundation to extend existing solutions to celestial applications, space systems come with unique characteristics that may require adaptations from existing strategies or radically new approaches to the problem. Therefore, the US Space Force sought out bold and disruptive approaches to security for space cyber-physical systems and operations.
DATA FUSION for Space applications
How might we take advantage of the latest in information analysis and data fusion to provide insight into space objects’ past, current, and predicted trajectories, capabilities, and intentions?
The Catalyst Accelerator sought out small businesses and startups with commercially viable data analytics to address the Air Force’s and Department of Defense’s needs in space situational awareness. We sought out approaches to analyze or fuse existing data containing space object positions and signal levels (in the optical, radar, RF, IR, or other) as a function of time, along with any other freely available data or metadata (e.g., weather, astronomical data, published satellite data).
Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance
Catalyst Accelerator sought out small businesses and startups with commercially viable solutions to address Air Force (AF) and Department of Defense (DoD) applications in space-based ISR.
Technologies of relevance included significantly advantageous sensing devices including detectors, transmitters, antennas, optics; signal processing and multi-source fusion algorithms, computing resources, and services; and technologies and methods for smart distribution of ISR products to DoD consumers (the right information to the attention of the right entity at the right time).
Resilient Commercial Space Communications
The Air Force sought out a suite of options to augment, supplement, backup, complement, and or improve current space communication capabilities. Solutions may be ground-based or space-borne and involve some combination of hardware devices, software, data products, algorithms, or services.
As of 2016, satellite communication accounted for 49% of the operational satellite market with 35% of coming from the commercial sector. Additionally, communications satellites accounted for 22% of the overall satellite revenue for the year 20161. From a military perspective, space communication ensures effective transmission of information to and from the warfighter.
Solutions needed to demonstrate commercial viability to ensure an efficient evolution through development to respond to rapidly evolving technologies.
Positioning, Navigation & TIMING
Catalyst Accelerator sought out entrepreneurs, startups, and technologists from established companies with commercial solutions to provide PNT in a GPS-denied environment. Submitted solutions were to augment, supplement, backup, complement, and improve upon current PNT capabilities provided by GPS.
Submissions ranged from single-user solutions to network-based or satellite-based solutions that serve multiple users. Technology users may be humans on foot, in buildings, in restricted terrain or caves; or, users may be aircraft, ships, satellites or automated networks ingesting PNT data.
Catalyst Accelerator sought out commercial and industry solutions to address the ability to monitor earth’s terrestrial environments with the objective of providing improved global weather data and products to support the warfighter.
Solutions included anything from a full commercial operations floor providing services and data to the US government, to a set of niche ground and space based sensors, data, data processing, improved algorithms, and services provided directly to an Air Force operations floor or operators on the ground.