DOD Invites Companies to Help It Visualize the Space Domain

The Space Force wants to better visualize the space domain, so the Defense Innovation Unit is asking companies—both from the U.S. and internationally—to send in ideas for a shot at funding. 

Having teased the Global Space Innovation Project on social media, officials with the DIU previewed the project via video conference Nov. 3. It’s a solicitation for technology that’s already in existence or in development that could take the types of data collected for space operations and turn it all into something user-friendly—like an app—to visualize the domain and the status of space systems. 

“We’re looking for things that are already somewhat developed that we can take that next mile and really customize to our needs,” said Matt Tompkins, a co-founder of SpaceWERX, which stood up in August and collaborates with DIU.

In the public video conference, the officials said they have experience funding international companies following 2020’s joint U.S.-U.K. International Space Pitch Day.  

They said multiple awards could be made and there is no prerequisite for a company to apply. They declined to state a dollar amount for the total project or an upper limit for individual awards but acknowledged they are modeling the program off of Small Business Innovation Research Phase 2 grants. Those are generally $750,000 for two years. International companies wouldn’t be eligible for SBIR grants, though they are still eligible to receive funding.

The Space Force’s Space Systems Command and the Space Force’s Space Rapid Capabilities Office are funding the project, while the DIU is taking care of the contracting side.

An announcement with more details, including answers to frequently asked questions, goes up on the DIU’s website Nov. 4—but the officials said it will be intentionally broad and doesn’t even specify whether a single solution or a suite of apps is preferred:

“Tell us why you think one solution is better than the other,” Tompkins said.

Submissions will be accepted Nov. 4-18. Companies may team up to apply.