ATLAS’ Participation in the Air Force Research Laboratory and Catalyst Space Accelerator Will Create More Resilient Space Communications.
ATLAS Space Operations got some exciting news in late March: We were chosen for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s third Catalyst Space Accelerator cohort.
So … what exactly does that mean? Here’s a breakdown:
The Accelerator program is fairly new, and the Catalyst Campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was set up as a private company with a focus on partnerships with the government. Being chosen for the cohort includes access to seed investment by Space Capital Colorado, network connections, mentorship, workshops, and opportunities for future investment and growth. It’s an ecosystem in which the Air Force and companies as large as Microsoft and as small as (or smaller than) ATLAS have a space to bid for federal contracts, with both governmental and commercial entities working together.
Within each cohort, the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV) poses a problem statement and solicits answers from small companies who could use business development assistance. The goal of each Accelerator is to make these small yet innovative companies commercially viable while delivering a solution to the government.
This gives an opportunity for rising space industry companies like ATLAS to make a pretty big mark on the industry by promoting an innovative new service to the government, where it can be difficult to grow. We’ve found that despite the complexity involved in selling to the government, it’s one of the best testing grounds. The government is able to absorb some of the commercial risk involved in pursuing groundbreaking new projects – risk that small companies often can’t take on – so this Accelerator program is preparing us to successfully navigate the small business landscape in the government sector.
This cohort focuses on Resilient Commercial Space Communications, so all companies selected have a part to play in ensuring the Air Force’s satellite command and control network is resilient – in other words, difficult to jam, and rapidly deployable. ATLAS falls more into the latter category, via our ability to augment government assets with commercial technology.