SpaceWERX kicks off with a virtual event to find cutting-edge space tech from companies that are new to working with the government.
The U.S. Space Force’s dedicated arm for pursuing and integrating innovative technologies—SpaceWERX—is set to officially launch on August 19, via a virtual kickoff event and pitch day.
Air Force officials announced plans to form this capabilities development hub for America’s newest military branch, focused specifically on space, late last year. On Wednesday, they invited the public to sign up to attend its first-ever rollout event slated for this month.
SpaceWERX will operate as a component of AFWERX, an Air Force-steered program that targets next-gen technologies and entrepreneurs that are new to working with the government. As the Defense Department’s newest innovation arm, SpaceWERX will be poised to produce platforms for space operators, lab engineers, and acquisition professionals to connect with officials from academia and industry to drive forward emerging technology-based solutions. It is headquartered in California, but will function globally—and leverage existing tools from AFWERX.
In the Air Force Research Lab invitation, officials note that they’ll detail upcoming SpaceWERX initiatives during the launch event.
“This fall, AFWERX will jumpstart key SpaceWERX initiatives by offering a Phase I Open Topic Small Business Technology Transfer solicitation focused on space technologies,” officials confirmed. “This effort will team small businesses with university researchers focused on space to simultaneously build the workforce and develop cutting-edge space technologies.”
Open Topics enable companies and researchers to propose technology solutions they believe would benefit the department, even if the Air Force or Space Force has not issued a specific Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer notice seeking a solution. Officials outline other existing pursuits, as well as some in the pipeline, through the release. They noted that much of the to-be-explored technologies and tools will be key to Space Prime, an initiative slated to begin later this month.
Through it, SpaceWERX hopes to go after a nascent tech sector that could advance the U.S.’ economic and national security—if “primed.”
“We’re particularly excited about Space Prime,” SpaceWERX Director Lt. Col. Walter McMillan said. “Space Prime is our strong signal to academia, industry, investment, interagency, and international partners on a specific mission area where we aim to energize the space industrial base and develop on-orbit capability in an accelerated timeline. We are targeting operational capability in two to four years.”