Six companies will explore applications of mature technologies to space mission needs for increased protection and resilience of space assets

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.Oct. 5, 2023 — Hyperspace Challenge, a business accelerator run by the Air Force Research Laboratory and CNM Ingenuity, announced today in conjunction with the U.S. Space Force’s Space Rapid Capabilities Office (Space RCO) the six companies from four countries selected to participate in the accelerator’s 2023 program cohort. Participants will have the opportunity to learn from Space RCO leadership through virtual meetings and an in-person event in order to explore pathways to partnerships and gain a better understanding from government innovators what technologies are needed to make space assets, including satellites, more resilient and responsive to threats, both current and as yet unknown.

The selected companies represent an array of space-based technologies, including propulsion systems, artificial intelligence, sensors, and imaging software – all with the common goal of making space safer. Companies chosen to undertake this year’s challenge are:

  • Phase Four of Hawthorne, Calif.Changing the Way We Move in Space
  • Dawn AeroSpace of Delft, The NetherlandsFrom Earth to Space. From Space to Everywhere Else
  • of Brooklyn, N.Y.Data at the Speed of AI
  • Magdrive, Harwell Innovation Campus of Harwell Oxford, England: Next Generation Spacecraft Propulsion
  • TRL11 of Irvine, Calif.Video Solutions for the New Space Economy
  • High Earth Orbit Robotics of Haymarket, AustraliaPioneering in-orbit satellite inspection to monitor space objects and their environment

“Solving today’s – and tomorrow’s – greatest space challenges not only requires fast action but also necessitates that we push the limits of creativity,” said Matthew Fetrow, Space RCO communications manager. “We know that a diversity of perspectives and ideas propels innovation. So, we have high expectations that this cohort will arrive at solutions that would be unimaginable without their wide range of experience and specialties.”

Companies’ participation during the program is not a short-term exercise in innovation; rather, participants will establish relationships and lay the groundwork for potential partnerships that can rapidly advance the safety, security, stability, and long-term sustainability of space. As the number of countries participating in the global space industry has skyrocketed, so has the proliferation of, and dependence on, services provided by their space assets. Since disruption of these services – from communications, to national defense, to data collection – threatens public safety and economic stability for all, their protection is paramount.

As part of the program, participants will engage directly with government officials from the Space RCO, which is seeking products that will approach the protection of space assets from a variety of angles. These include:

  1. Improving space visibility and awareness using threat and hazard awareness capabilities that can quickly and accurately detect and prioritize threats either from the ground or space. 
  2. Advancing space analysis and vehicle autonomy using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and/or autonomous technologies that reduce ground-based vehicle operator workload, inform intelligent vehicle response decisions, and decrease vehicle response time.
  3. Increasing space vehicle lifespan and maneuverability using advanced propulsion, refueling capabilities, and/or other fuel conservation innovations that allow space assets to maneuver freely without future negative consequences. 

Hyperspace Challenge astutely recognizes that the future of a sustainability space ecosystem requires more collaborative thinking and innovation. We are committed to finding ways for government and enterprise to break down silos and work together,” said Gabe Mounce, director of the AFRL Tech Engagement Office in New Mexico. “Cohorts like this year’s program, foster a creative mindset and model a united approach that is more adept at delivering a rapid response to the real-world needs of the growing space economy.”

The companies will be invited to a series of virtual meetings in October and will participate in a two day on-site at Albuquerque New Mexico’s Q-Station on November 1-2. 

About the Hyperspace Challenge

The Hyperspace Challenge was created in 2018 by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and CNM Ingenuity, an economic development arm of Central New Mexico Community College, to accelerate collaboration among companies, university research teams and the government, and shift space innovation into hyperdrive. The accelerator, which is now directed by CNM Ingenuity in conjunction with AFRL and the U.S. Space Force, cultivates networks in an innovation ecosystem prioritizing connection and community. To date, the accelerator has supported over 60 small businesses and universities from across the U.S. and abroad.