“This changes the way we do Space,” says Karl Stolleis, lead for Space Robotics and Logistics for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Space Vehicle Directorate, when speaking about the technology brought forth by small businesses and startups at the Catalyst Accelerator’s (Catalyst) Demo Day for On-Orbit Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing (OSAM) on July 22, 2021. Eight companies concluded their 3-month Accelerator with an on-site demonstration day at Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation. In attendance were Air Force, Space Force, and other Government personnel, subject matter experts from industry leaders, investors assessing the potential of cohort company technologies, and those curious about where the U.S. is heading with space technology.
The OSAM Accelerator was the seventh accelerator facilitated by Catalyst. The cohort was chosen for their technology and business readiness, from a pool of 38 companies. The problem space was framed around on-orbit servicing capabilities to extend the operational lifetimes of satellites, thereby reducing costs and enabling new systems and missions. Technologies provided by cohort companies included refueling, repairing, or recycling satellites, orbit correction, in-space manufacturing and even commercial servicing and debris removal.
Over the course of the Accelerator, the companies were guided by: Government Sherpas and end-users, enabling them to better understand Government space needs; business experts, helping them pivot their technology and corporate posture to position themselves well in the Government market; and Commercial Sherpas (Lockheed Martin, Deloitte, Ball Aerospace, Microsoft, General Dynamics, Leidos, Astroscale, and Booz Allen Hamilton), helping them step into the Government arena with advice, consulting, and key contact introductions within the Government and Commercial sectors. According to a representative of cohort company, Benchmark Space Systems, the Accelerator helped them see more clearly not just where they currently are but the limitless possibilities of where they want to go.
Demo Day was the culmination of the OSAM Accelerator, which began on April 27, 2021. It was the final product of the cohort’s diligence, the re-imagining of their technology, the shifting of their business model to fit the new customer – Space for the U.S. Government. Present at the event was Gabe Mounce, Director of Space Fore Accelerators, AFRL. Mr. Mounce praised the disruptive technology displayed at the event and provided encouragement for the future of this technology in the U.S. Space Force. Each company then provided a brief pitch on their tech before attendees had the opportunity to follow-up individually with the small businesses. “Connecting small business with government and commercial industries with whom cohort companies can connect is the goal of Demo Day. And today was everything we had hoped for! Networking opportunities were rich and lasted past the event’s end. The Catalyst Accelerator team is excited to see this group of companies transform the OSAM world with their disruptive space technologies,” says KiMar Gartman, Catalyst Accelerator Program Director.
Cohort companies included:
Atomos Space – www.atomosspace.com – Atomos provides services with our orbital transfer vehicles to relocate unmodified satellites on orbit in both classified and unclassified environments. Our services are applicable for initial launch deployment to increase mass to orbit, relocation of existing space assets in any orbital environment, and end-of life disposal. We reduce satellite development, build, and launch costs, and allow you to maneuver without regret.
Benchmark Space Systems – www.benchmarkspacesystems.com – Benchmark Space Systems is building a family of smart plug-and-play propulsion and servicing systems that rapidly and safely maneuver satellites in orbit to enable them to autonomously avoid hazards and reconfigure formations and constellations in real-time.
Neutron Star Systems – www.neutronstar.systems – Neutron Star Systems is developing a Superconductor-based Electric Propulsion System, which provides greater efficiency, scalability, and operational flexibility, so that you can perform more advanced space missions and capture millions of dollars in cost savings.
NovaWurks – www.novawurks.com – NovaWurks provides trusted solutions with sci-fi capabilities to perform reconfiguration on demand so that you can survive and thrive in space.
Obruta Space Solutions – www.obruta.com – Obruta Space Solutions is a NewSpace service provider that delivers in-space services to enhance and increase the operational mission lifespan of your satellite fleet by decades—exponentially increasing your space assets value. We achieve this through our Service Pod vehicles and complimentary Puck interfaces. Our Service Pods autonomously dock to your satellites and provide a range of services including refueling, life-extension, deorbiting, hardware replacement and upgrades, while our service interface, the Puck, is a drop-in replacement for common satellite umbilicals—allowing for seamless ground operations while simultaneously enabling your satellites to receive in-space services.
Orbit Fab – www.orbitfab.space – Orbit Fab is a multi-orbit refueling service (LEO, GEO, Cislunar, Lunar) that maximizes your operational assets by enabling freedom of action to maneuver without regret to complete your mission in the contested space environment.
Orbital Composites – www.orbitalcomposites.com – Orbital Composites is building robotic factories for on-orbit manufacturing of satellites, antennas, and pressure vessels.
Skycorp Inc. – www.skycorpinc.com – Skycorp is developing the world’s first reusable spacecraft, assembled in space, designed for refurbishment and reprovisioning, with the goal of reducing the life cycle costs of space systems by 80%.
The OSAM Accelerator was made possible with the support of AFRL/RV and the U.S. Space Force and the generous support from Corporate Sponsor, Booz Allen Hamilton; Platform Sponsor, Leidos; and other sponsors including, Ball Aerospace.