Hyperspace Challenge, a business accelerator run by the Air Force Research Laboratory and CNM Ingenuity as part of the new SpaceWERX for the U.S. Space Force, has announced it has selected 13 startups and 11 university teams to participate in its 2021 cohort. Finalists comprising the cohort represent 13 states, as well as one company from Ottawa, Canada.
The new cohort is tasked with the development of technology that can be applied to or solve problems in the space domain. This is the first year the program will include a formal university accelerator track that aims to increase collaboration opportunities between the federal government and university research teams, traditionally siloed from commercial and government innovation.
“We are once again very pleased to discover companies and universities developing commercial solutions with applicability to the U.S. Space Force, U.S. Air Force and the Department of Energy that the government may not have otherwise considered through its normal channels,” noted Gabe Mounce, Deputy Director of SpaceWERX, which includes Hyperspace Challenge. “We made a conscious decision this year to offer a more diverse set of problem areas than in years past, and we think that decision paid off in creating a cohort of companies and university teams that offer collective, synergistic innovation.”
The companies and universities selected to undertake this challenge include:
Astroport Space Technologies, Inc. (San Antonio, TX)
Atomionics (Albuquerque, NM)
G-SPACE, INC (Sunnyvale, CA)
Knight Aerospace (San Antonio, TX)
Lunar Outpost (Evergreen, CO)
Neutron Star Systems USA Corp. (Colorado Springs, CO)
O Analytics Incorporated (White Hall, WV)
Obruta Space Solutions (Ottawa, ON, Canada)
Quaternion Consulting Inc (Herndon, VA)
SCOUT (Alexandria, VA)
TurnRock Labs (Seattle, WA)
Varda Space Industries, Inc. (Torrance, CA)
Vegamx (New York, NY)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach, FL)
New Mexico Tech (Socorro, NM)
SFluor Inc. (Albany, NY)
Stevens Institute of Technology (Hoboken, NJ)
SUNY Polytechnic Institute (Albany, NY)
Texas State University (San Marcos, TX)
University of Texas at El Paso (El Paso, TX)
The Pennsylvania State University (Freeport, PA)
University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH)
University of Colorado Colorado Springs (Colorado Springs, CO)
Utah State University (Logan, UT)
During the initial phase of Hyperspace Challenge in early August, startups and university teams were invited to participate in the 2021 Discovery Sessions webinar series to meet with government customers and explore the relevance of their technology to government mission needs before applying to the accelerator. The webinar series focused on six key problem areas including rapid initial orbit determination, smart sensing and machine learning for ground-based remote sensing of space objects, leveraging microgravity for military/commercial applications and products, rocket cargo technology for agile global logistics, quantum sensing for location and electromagnetic field detection, and on-orbit servicing, assembly and manufacturing.
“The technologies and capabilities proposed by the academic sector toward our six problem areas were exceptional and made the selection process really tough,” noted Mounce. “In concert with the other opportunities that SpaceWERX and the U.S. Space Force are rolling out to better engage the academic sector, this fully realized university cohort is poised to open up the field.”
The program will culminate in a showcase event, Hyperspace Summit, on December 2; registration for the event, which will be held virtually, will open in early November. Cohort finalists with the most viable technologies will be awarded a total of $100,000 in prize money to expedite follow-on activities related to establishing government acquisition or contracting opportunities.
Launched in 2018, Hyperspace Challenge was designed to accelerate collaboration and foster contracts between startups and university teams, and government space agencies. To this end, the engagement the accelerator facilitates lowers the barriers to government-commercial partnership. It does this in large part by employing a methodology that focuses on building relationships between the startup and government communities that extend well beyond a cohort’s conclusion.
More information about the accelerator can be found at hyperspacechallenge.com.
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