Loft Orbital has been awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract by AFWERX and sponsored by the U.S. Space Force (USSF) Space and Missile Systems Center’s (SMC) Portfolio Architect office.
The contract will provide funding to support Loft Orbital’s development of a high-performance, reprogrammable onboard edge computing environment and associated applications. This will address a major government and commercial operator need for large constellations of satellites to execute autonomous decision-making and mission tasks.
Under this contract, Loft Orbital will develop its next-generation onboard processor to support customer and third party “massless payloads” onboard. This onboard processor will function as a “brain” on Loft Orbital spacecraft, providing an environment to host applications for sensor data processing, mission autonomy, satellite self-protection, or any other application requiring advanced computing at the edge.
Other potential applications of the edge processor include payload and telemetry data processing, as well as the ingestion of other space assets’ data through intersatellite links. This space edge processor allows individual satellites to act as computing nodes within a mesh-connected network of other satellites, ground stations, and cloud datacenters, yet capable of advanced processing in isolation in denied or congested communications
In addition, Loft will develop a machine learning software package to autonomously detect, identify and mitigate cyber threats onboard the spacecraft, an important capability for government missions.
Loft Orbital was previously awarded an AFWERX SBIR Phase I contract. In combination with private
capital investment, this SBIR Phase II award will allow Loft Orbital to enhance this processor based on USSF feedback from Phase I. Loft Orbital is targeting a future mission as the first flight of this
second-generation processor, with the goal of making it as a standard offering for US Government
“There is an unprecedented convergence occurring between commercial and government space infrastructure. Capabilities, threats, and vulnerabilities are now increasingly shared between these communities,” said Andrew Berg, Loft Orbital’s VP of Business Development. “We’re pleased that SMC is placing its confidence in Loft Orbital to advance its innovative onboard processing architecture. This commercially-derived enhanced capability will offer a leap ahead in the pursuit of seamless Joint All- Domain Command and Control in support of national security space objectives, and we are excited to be selected as a partner to SMC in defining that way ahead.”