Friday, September 25, 2020

From the over 800 teams that submitted their solutions to the AFWERX Space Challenge initiatives, AFWERX has announced Charles River Analytics as one of the 178 selected to exhibit at EngageSpace, a virtual two-day event held on September 29-30.

Established in 2017, AFWERX is an Air Force organization that explores and facilitates partnerships to further strengthen the Air Force, which can lead to additional prototyping, R&D, and follow-on production contracts.

AFWERX Challenge

The AFWERX Space Challenge initiative is made up of four separate Challenges targeted at creating integrated space operations: Persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR); DoD Commercial Space Partnership; Global Space Transport and Delivery; and Space Asset Resiliency.

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Charles River Analytics is competing in the Space Asset Resiliency Challenge alongside a diverse group of teams that represent entrepreneurial startups, small businesses, large enterprises, academic institutions, and research labs. The Space Asset Resiliency Challenge seeks proposals that will increase the longevity of space assets by improving their durability against unique threats faced in the space environment. Two different Charles River solutions were selected for exhibition in virtual conference booths.

One submission, Cis-Lunar Unified Support for Threat Evaluation in Real-time, codenamed CLUSTER, proposes a probabilistic software solution that generates risk assessments and course of action analyses for spacecraft in cislunar space, which begins outside Earth’s atmosphere and extends to just beyond the Moon’s orbit. CLUSTER builds on prior systems completed and under development at Charles River that use probabilistic modeling to evaluate threats posed to spacecraft by natural objects or malicious activities. The AFWERX submission proposes to refocus these efforts on cislunar space, where there is a proliferation of government, commercial, and research interest; NASA is currently planning a lunar space station called the Lunar Gateway, the Air Force is researching a concept called the Cislunar Highway Patrol System, and companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are bringing lunar space tourism closer to reality.

Charles River’s other solution, Space Training and Asset Resiliency via Augmented Reality, codenamed STAR2, aims to help protect space assets by improving the training of US Space Force operators with augmented reality and virtual reality tools. STAR2 will build on the work of a former project called SOLAR to provide visualizations of key space engagement entities, from space assets and orbital elements to rendezvous and proximity operations.

“Similar to Gen. Mattis’ initiative to have Army combat troops fight ‘25 bloodless’ battles before their first combat, and the hours fighter pilots spend in flight simulators before ever taking off in a cockpit, Space Force operators require immersive, scenario-driven training tools that emulate the space assets and environments that a majority will never experience firsthand,” writes STAR2 Principal Investigator and Charles River Scientist Caroline Kingsley in her Challenge submission.

The EngageSpace event will feature opportunities to connect, educate, and innovate with other like-minded attendees, industry leaders, individual innovators, academia, investors, as well as military and government leaders, enabling government buyers to pursue the most promising innovative solutions. 

“The solutions submitted for these space challenges represent the bleeding edge of space innovation,” said Brennan Townley, AFWERX Challenge Collaboration Lead. “We’re excited to highlight these innovators and connect them with opportunities across the Space ecosystem.”

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