Weekly GEOINT Community News

DARPA Issues RFI for Quantum Computing; Ursa Announces New Venture Funding; DoD Launches Competitive Commercial Tech Procurement Program; More


DARPA Issues RFI for Quantum Computing

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) issued a request for information on quantum computing capabilities capable of refining AI and machine learning tools. The agency also wants to explore quantum sensors and quantum-inspired algorithms as they apply to classical computers. RFI responses will be accepted through Aug. 10.

Ursa Announces New Venture Funding

Ursa Space Systems announced $5.7 million in new venture capital funding led by RRE Ventures, including participation from S&P Global and Paladin Capital Group. The investment comes after Ursa expanded its Global Oil Storage Monitoring product, a weekly service measuring crude oil storage in hundreds of terminals worldwide. The funding will enable Ursa to grow this and other offerings as well as to develop new product lines.

DoD Launches Competitive Commercial Tech Procurement Program

The Department of Defense launched a competitive procedure for the procurement of innovative tech and services from non-traditional commercial vendors. Under the Defense CSO Pilot Program, DoD acquisition officials will acquire solutions that fill capability gaps and will choose proposals based on peer review. The program will run through September 2022, but contracts will likely run longer than the program’s four-year timeline.

Northrop’s Cygnus Spacecraft Begins CubeSat Deployment Mission

After a successful experiment boosting the orbit of the International Space Station (ISS), Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft has begun its secondary mission. The S.S. JR Thompson departed the ISS and is now preparing to deploy six cubesats into orbit before executing a safe return to Earth. Four of the new satellites will provide global ship and weather tracking for Spire Global, and two will test star tracker images and solar panels for Aerospace Corporation.

Airbus Opens Production Facilities for Zephyr UAV

Airbus Defence and Space unveiled its new Zephyr S HAPS (High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite), a solar-electric, stratospheric UAV designed for affordable, local tasking. The company also announced the opening of the Kelleher production facility, indicating heavy future investment in Zephyr. Additionally, Airbus chose the Wyndham airfield in Western Australia as the first launch and recovery site for the program. These milestones come as the first production Zephyr aircraft flies its maiden capability-testing mission from Arizona.

Harris to Provide Astronaut Audio System for NASA

Harris Corporation was chosen by prime contractor Lockheed Martin to develop an astronaut audio communication system for NASA’s first mission sending human explorers to deep space. The system will provide central audio control units, a push-to-talk interface, and a speaker unit to transmit messages in the cabin. The mission is planned for launch in 2022 onboard the Orion spacecraft.

Carahsoft Partners with Feature Labs on Public-Facing AI/ML

Carahsoft announced a partnership to provide Feature Labs machine learning and artificial intelligence engineering solutions to the public sector through Carahsoft’s NASA Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) contract. With Feature Labs, Carahsoft and other resellers can provide customers with precise, automated feature engineering on structured datasets, quickly optimizing data for machine learning models.

Vanbenberg AFB Opens Combined Space Operations Center

Vanbenberg Air Force Base in California rebranded its Joint Space Operations Center to a new Combined Space Operations Center. The center employs about 350 individuals and is responsible for tracking roughly 23,000 objects in space. The move signifies increased cooperation between the U.S. military and its allies on satellite operations, the ISS, and other space-based research and development efforts.

Peer Intel

OGSystems announced the promotion of Executive Partners Aarish Gokaldas and Lorinda Ayling to Chief Growth Officer and Chief Services Officer, respectively, effective immediately.

Ball Aerospace announced that Jim Oschmann, vice president and general manager of its civil space strategic business unit, will retire from the company, effective Aug. 10. Dr. Makenzie Lystrup, currently senior director of civil space advanced systems and business development, will assume Oschmann’s position.

Photo Credit: NASA/Northrop Grumman

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