Air Force Research Laboratory and Catalyst Space Accelerator Announce Third Cohort

Problem Statement Focuses on Resilient Commercial Space Communications

Colorado Springs, Colo., March 27, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate and Catalyst Space Accelerator have announced the selection of the Accelerator’s third space technology cohort, this one with a focus on Resilient Commercial Space Communications. The semi-residential, 12-week, cohort-based Catalyst Space Accelerator program is hosted by Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV) at Catalyst Campus in downtown Colorado Springs and includes seed investment by Space Capital Colorado, network connections, mentorship, workshops, and opportunities for future investment and growth. 

Catalyst Space Accelerator’s mission is to promote technology advancement for the warfighter and guide technology transfer from the commercial market to the government and vice versa. The Air Force is currently looking for a suite of options to augment, supplement, backup, complement, and or improve current space communications capabilities from the Resilient Commercial Space Communications cohort. 

The third cohort’s Kick-off, when the selected companies finally meet formally, will take place April 9, 2019. Kick-off has been timed to coincide with the 35th Space Symposium, the yearly “must attend” space industry event. Accelerator participants will even have the opportunity to visit and network at the Symposium as part of the Catalyst Space Accelerator program. 

Participants in Catalyst Space Accelerator also gain access to the extensive network of connections radiating from the Catalyst Campus’ collaborative ecosystem, a mixture of academia, aerospace industry, government entities, entrepreneurs, small businesses, startups, and venture capitalists. This ecosystem enhances one of the great advantages to the Accelerator’s location on Catalyst Campus in downtown Colorado Springs: the accelerated Customer Discovery process. Located in immediate proximity to Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), Air Force Research Lab Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV), Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), and other government customers, Catalyst Space Accelerator reduces the typical customer discovery time from six months to a few weeks. 

Always innovating forward, Catalyst Space Accelerator has gone beyond ensuring the third cohort has the fullest access to government Sherpas; this session will also include a Commercial Sherpa program for an expanded Customer Discovery experience.  Commercial Sherpa companies are well-connected commercial companies that operate within the theme area of the Accelerator and are willing to dedicate at least 12 hours of their time to each of their adoptive cohort companies while working around the cohort’s individual schedules. NDAs are always put in place to protect each company’s intellectual property. 

The Catalyst Space Accelerator team is excited to announce that the following seven companies were selected for the third Catalyst Space Accelerator cohort, all of them focused on Resilient Commercial Space Communications technologies: 

Analytical Space Inc. (ASI) is a satellite communications company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 2016, ASI is launching a satellite data relay network that provides a secure, reliable, high-speed data connection. By uploading to the network, satellite operators will have access to more of their data in a reduced timeframe, all while using their existing hardware. ASI leverages hybrid RF-laser communications technology.         

ATLAS Space Operations of Traverse City, Michigan is a global communications provider for spacecraft and launch vehicles dedicated to convenient and affordable TT&C and data access. The ATLAS FREEDOM™ Software Platform is a proprietary, cloud-based software service providing a scalable, flexible, and resilient communication framework. Freedom’s key features include the Flex Scheduler, customizable cloud apps delivering powerful automation, and access through an intuitive API and user interface. ATLAS operates a network of ground antenna designed to provide low latency connectivity through geospatial diversity without increasing costs to the customer. 

Omnispace of McLean, Virginia owns/operates a global, non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellite system harnessing 60Mhz of globally harmonized S-band spectrum and a network of worldwide groundstations. Our ground-breaking next generation constellation and hybrid connectivity model will connect people and things faster and more efficiently, from urban centers to rural fields to oceans at the top of the world. Omnispace looks forward to making its all-weather global communications capability available to the U.S. and her allies within our commercially-focused model in support of a more resilient, diversified communications portfolio. We also seek to innovate new partnerships between commercial NGSO constellations and government stakeholders. 

Opterus Research & Development, located in Loveland, Colorado, gives small spacecraft the performance of big spacecraft through rapid innovations in deployable and unfolding structures. Our revolutionizing technology, pioneered by Opterus’ founder, is rapidly transitioning the industry from bulky mechanisms to miniaturized high strain composite structures. Opterus technologies were successfully flown on eight units in 2018. Our new deployable solid surface parabolic reflector antenna technology is poised to dramatically change small spacecraft communications: we are developing the industry’s first low cost high gain reflector antennas that compactly package for small satellites.   

Skyloom of Berkley, California is developing a spaceborne telecommunications network infrastructure with Tb/s data transfer capacity relying on very high speeds and channel availability by using optical communication technology and small relay satellites placed in geostationary orbit. Optical links are the future of spaceborne communications, allowing unprecedented performance at reduced costs (mass, power, and size) at the expense of high accuracy beam pointing. Moreover, RF spectrum regulations do not apply to optical links. Our mission is to unlock the true economic potential of Low Earth Orbit by providing unprecedented spaceborne communication services to Earth-observation, Internet of Things, and broadband internet satellite constellations. 

Spectral Quantum Technologies of Denver, Colorado is the only startup with space-proven quantum communications hardware that is compact enough to fit on a CubeSat. This system utilizes the unique properties of quantum physics to guarantee against eavesdroppers. SQT is committed to bringing this secure and resilient technology to the US defense and warfighter community.     

Xenesis of Lisle, Illinois, in partnership with NASA/JPL/Georgia Tech Research Corporation, is co-developing a commercial grade 10Gbs Laser Optical Transceiver named the "Xen-Hub." This novel technology is the exclusive hardware utilized within a Global Multi-Layered Mesh Network, called the "Empower Space Alliance."  With this technology, Xenesis and its partners will deliver an end-to-end solution capable of 33Tbs through-put, in a secure and fully autonomous asset management platform. This global network is self-provisioned, employs best-of-breed security protocols and mitigates atmospheric interference via spatial diversity on the ground. Xenesis is launching its On-orbit demonstration in Q2 2020 and will be fully operational in Q4 2020, with commercial grade comms services in Q4 2021. Xenesis thoroughly understands the resiliency & disaggregation Space architectures mandate, issued in 2016. Based on this, Xenesis is prepared to address your needs, as well as anticipate future requirements. 


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 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.  


Catalyst Campus President and Founder Kevin O'Neil speaks at a recent Catalyst Space Accelerator Demo Day.

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