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NASA Funds R&D Projects to Improve Operations of Satellite Swarms

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA is funding a trio of research and development (R&D) projects by Nanoracks, Teltrium Solutions and Emergent Space Technologies aimed at enabling swarms of small satellites to better operate in Earth orbit and to explore other worlds.

The companies each received Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II awards worth $750,000 to continue work on the their technologies. They each received smaller awards under the first phase of of the program.

Nanoracks, which is based in Houston, is focused on reusing spent rocket stages known as Outposts to help improve communications with satellite swarms exploring the moon and other planets.

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  • May 31, 2022
SpaceFounders, the Factory of Future Space Champions, Announces Recruitment of 2nd Class of 10 Startups

PARIS (CNES PR) — SpaceFounders, the accelerator for European space startups, whose goal is to identify and support future champions to enable them to become industrial leaders and amplify their impact on the structuring of the space sector, announces the winners of its 2nd promotion.

Services using earth observation data for sustainable development are in the spotlight this year. Space is an essential tool to support the agricultural and urban sectors in their necessary transition and to observe and prevent the impact of climate change. Space propulsion is another key theme of this second promotion, demonstrating the interest of the market for systems allowing maneuvers in orbit with an ever higher performance/cost ratio. The other topics covered are those of on-board artificial intelligence for autonomous systems in orbit, telecommunications and the Internet of Things by satellite.

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  • May 28, 2022
US Department of Energy Joins Frontier Development Lab

The Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office (AITO) of the US Department of Energy will partner with Frontier Development Lab to apply synergies between physics, simulation, and machine learning to clean energy, Earth science and climate resilience challenges.

Mountain View, CA (SETI PR) – The US Department of Energy (DOE) is joining the Frontier Development Lab (FDL) program to advance basic research at the agency. FDL is a public-private partnership between the SETI Institute, NASA, USGS, Google Cloud, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Nvidia, Trillium Technologies and other US and international partners.

FDL is an applied artificial intelligence research program that tackles fundamental knowledge gaps in space, Earth science and energy by pairing machine learning experts with subject domain experts. Research teams are supported by massive compute resources, relevant datasets and technology advisory from private sector partners for an intensive eight-week, paid research sprint over the summer. Teams address research challenges such as astronaut health, lunar exploration, heliophysics and climate change. FDL is excited to join forces with DOE and add challenge topics addressing critical DOE priorities, such as energy futures, climate adaptation and disaster response.

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  • May 19, 2022
Smarter Satellites: ESA Discovery Accelerates AI in Space
Demonstrating the potential of AI for Earth observation, ɸ-sat-1 is an artificial intelligence experiment carries on the Federated Satellite Systems (FSSCat) mission. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Could we capitalise on the Earth-based digital revolution to make our satellites smarter?

ESA Discovery is funding 12 projects that will explore the potential of applying the latest developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced computing paradigms to make satellites more reactive, agile and autonomous. This could generate new practical applications that support life on Earth and our exploration of other planets.

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  • May 13, 2022
NOAA to Study New Technologies for Future Satellite Products, Services

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — NOAA plans to release three Broad Agency Announcements, or BAAs, that may lead to a review of advanced technologies for its future satellite and ground architecture, products and services.   The BAAs – and the studies that will result – are part of NOAA’s Office of System Architecture and Advanced Planning (OSAAP) Joint Venture Program. Joint Venture examines the feasibility of partnering with other federal […]

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  • April 23, 2022
Titan Space Technologies Announces Successful Deployment of Machine Learning Models During Historic Ax-1 Mission
Space station crew welcomes the Ax-1 astronauts to the ISS. (Credit: Axiom Space)

PALO ALTO, Calif. (Titan Space Technologies PR) — Titan Space Technologies has successfully deployed and run a suite of machine learning models on the HPE Spaceborne Computer-2, an edge computing and AI system aboard the International Space Station (ISS), in support of Axiom Space’s future missions and vision of smart spacecraft architectures. Working closely with Axiom and HPE, Titan was tasked with applying its space experimentation platform to a use case based on the new demands of a modern space station. Titan’s success demonstrates the applied artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities critical for conducting space experimentation on orbital destinations and spacecraft now and in the future.

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  • April 12, 2022
Thales Alenia Space with Help from Microsoft Demonstrate On-orbit Compute Technologies Onboard the International Space Station to Gather Unmatched Earth Observation Insights

This demonstration is the keystone of an agreement between the two companies to enable new capabilities in the intersection of space and cloud.

CANNES, France, April 4, 2022 (Thales Alenia Space PR) – Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (Euronext Paris: HO) (67%) and Leonardo (Milan stock exchange: LDO) (33%), announced a strategic collaboration with Microsoft to explore the enablement of new capabilities in the Space Edge Computing (SEC), Artificial Intelligence Space Observation tools (DeeperVision) and Digital Ground Segment.

In particular, Thales Alenia Space plans to deliver advanced connectivity, analytics and compute in space with Space Edge Computing (SEC) with Microsoft. To this end, the companies will demonstrate and validate on-orbit computing technologies and potentialities onboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2023. Thales Alenia Space will deploy a powerful on-orbit computer, an on-orbit application framework, and high-performance Earth Observation sensors to unlock new on-orbit climate data processing applications for the benefits of our planet sustainability. Thales Alenia Space will work with Microsoft Research in remote sensing, computer vision and climate science to demonstrate the potential of next-generation on-orbit compute for Earth observation. This space edge computing capacity will allow gathering faster, to-the-point Earth observation insights immediately applicable for our planet’s surveillance, understanding and protection.

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  • April 4, 2022
Mi­ni Robots Prac­tice Grasp­ing Space De­bris on ISS
Simulation with the two Astrobees. [Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)]
  • During trials on the International Space Station (ISS), one robot positions itself so that it could grab another.
  • These simulate an approach to a tumbling object.
  • The robots work completely autonomously.
  • Focus: Spaceflight, ISS, security, artificial intelligence

OBERPFAFFENHOFEN, Germany (DLR PR) — A challenging feat for a little robot: Honey the Astrobee must grasp and transport Bumble the Astrobee. To pull it off, Honey needs to understand Bumble’s trajectory, position itself correctly and avoid a collision at all costs. Artificial intelligence (AI) helps the cube-shaped robot to accurately assess the situation.

The experiment is part of the TumbleDock/ROAM project, which the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is carrying out together with its partners on the ISS. The experiments are part of an effort to determine the best way to remove hazardous pieces of space debris from Earth orbit.

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  • March 24, 2022
ESA and AI Sweden Open Space Lab in Gothenburg

SOLNA, Sweden (Swedish National Space Agency PR) — AI Sweden and the European Space Agency, ESA, will open a lab for advanced technology development, Φ-lab Sweden (pronounced as the Greek letter “phi”), for AI in new space applications and applications for Earth observation. The lab is first out as a spearhead lab within a major European collaboration on space innovation and will be inaugurated in the spring.

The lab brings together industry, investors and researchers to strengthen the European space research and space industry sector in what is known as Earth observation and AI. This work is complemented by the work that takes place in the Swedish Space Data Lab, which includes the Swedish Space Agency, Luleå University of Technology, RISE and AI Sweden.

What attracted ESA to Sweden is AI Sweden’s knowledge and the cluster that works with an AI technology called edge learning. The technology creates the opportunity to train AI models directly in e.g. satellites. This saves money and resources because you do not have to send the massive amount of data that the satellites collect down to earth.

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  • March 21, 2022
Synthetaic Secures $13M Series A Financing to RAIC the World

DELAFIELD, Wis. (Synthetaic PR) — Synthetaic, the end-to-end AI company, announced today that it had closed a $13M Series A financing round led by Lupa Systems, and with participation from TitleTown Tech, Betaworks, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Esri. The money will be used to scale Synthetaic’s groundbreaking RAIC platform and continue establishing strategic partnerships to analyze some of the world’s most important data sets. Lupa Systems’ Ben FitzGerald has also joined Synthetaic’s Board of Directors.

Synthetaic provides organizations with an end-to-end pipeline for AI-enabled solutions without the traditional dependency on human labeled data, thereby allowing for AI insights in minutes instead of after months of human annotation. Synthetaic’s flagship technology, RAIC (Rapid Automatic Image Categorization) enables rapid object labeling, AI modeling, and solution deployment by analyzing large, multidimensional imagery datasets, and allows both experts and non-experts to build and run detection AI models in minutes.

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  • March 18, 2022