Trajectory spoke to Arcfield Chairman and CEO, Kevin Kelly, about the services the company provides and what excites him most about the future of GEOINT.
trajectory: What is Arcfield’s role in the advancement of geospatial intelligence?
Kelly: While Arcfield does not work directly with the NGA, we do work with other IC components including on the engineering, modeling, simulation, design, operations, and even decommissioning of advanced imagery satellites. That includes everything from the contemplation of the payload, the orbit, and how we integrate advanced technologies to enable the next generation of GEOINT missions.
What solutions and services does Arcfield provide?
Arcfield provides mostly systems engineering and integration and full life cycle support of satellites from acquisition all the way through decommissioning. This includes a lot of modeling and simulation and virtual demonstrations of capabilities on how the next generation of solutions will interact with prior generations of payloads of communications, relays, and collection vehicles. It’s heavy on the engineering, modeling, analysis and simulation side, with a bit of software development to enable all of that modeling and simulation and eventually produce an engineering product that then gets turned over to a satellite builder.
Who are your main customers?
Our main customers are the DoD and the Intelligence Community at large. We support the usual IC agencies, the satellite builders and the fliers, if you will, in addition to the U.S. Air Force and a budding level of support for the U.S. Space Force.
What makes Arcfield unique? What distinguishes the company in the geospatial industry?
I think one of the most important aspects that makes us unique is our long heritage in supporting this industry. Many of our programs providing engineering, modeling, and simulation support are 30 and 40 years old. They’ve gone through various iterations and combinations and contract breakups and recompetes, and so forth. We’ve had a great amount of longevity in this space, which has allowed us to build a lot of institutional knowledge, proprietary tools, and techniques, and a whole focus on model-based systems engineering and digital engineering that we continue to invest in and develop and then train all of our staff on.
What excites you most about the future of GEOINT?
I think one of the aspects that’s in the forefront lately is artificial intelligence and machine learning, as it’s applied to the GEOINT mission. If you think about geospatial intelligence data, it’s large, it’s bulky, it is not isolated from some of the challenges in space-based environments—that being the need to uplink and downlink large amounts of information through what tends to be a choke point in the architecture. So, the employment of artificial learning in the space-based environment to do as much on-orbit processing of collected information to develop intelligence in space versus always having to downlink it to a ground station is a really exciting part of the next generation mission. The idea was there 10 years ago, but we lacked the technology to make that a reality. So I think that’s probably the most exciting thing about the future of GEOINT.
What is next for Arcfield?
Oh boy, stay tuned! We’re working very hard to take our engineering, modeling, and simulation expertise and apply that to solving very specific, challenging problems through the development of prototypes, and doing some risk reduction to ensure that we can successfully integrate some leading-edge technologies into the overhead architecture. We understand the challenges that are facing these mission areas and how to apply technology to solve them. So, we’re eager to make progress there with a few of our government mission partners and bring those to market as quickly as possible.