Seattle, WA – August 8, 2023 – Starfish Space Inc. announced today that it has been awarded a $1.8M Tactical Funding Increase (TACFI) contract from AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Department of the Air Force. This award will support continued development of Starfish’s CEPHALOPOD software for satellite guidance, navigation, and control (GNC), building on previous collaborations between Starfish and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).
CEPHALOPOD is a first-of-its-kind product enabling autonomous rendezvous, proximity operations and docking (RPOD) using solely electric propulsion. CEPHALOPOD combines advanced computing techniques with novel relative motion algorithms to autonomously guide satellite maneuvers for docking with other objects in space. By combining CEPHALOPOD with other core Starfish technologies and electric propulsion thrusters on its Otter servicing vehicle, Starfish is able to dramatically reduce the cost of satellite servicing missions across orbits.
Starfish’s Otter Pup demonstration mission, launched in June 2023, aims to serve as an on-orbit testbed for CEPHALOPOD and other core Starfish technologies. In parallel to the Otter Pup mission, the TACFI award will enable substantial enhancements to CEPHALOPOD, allowing it to reach a technical maturity and readiness to conduct servicing missions at scale for commercial and government customers.
“We are excited to continue our collaboration with AFRL through this TACFI effort,” said Austin Link, Co-Founder of Starfish Space. “CEPHALOPOD can serve as a key technology enabling future servicing missions to benefit satellite operators, and we have found the AFRL team to be great partners in supporting its development.”
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.
About Starfish Space
Founded by former Blue Origin and NASA engineers, Starfish Space is developing the Otter servicing vehicle to extend the lives of satellites in geostationary orbit and dispose of space debris in low-Earth orbit. Starfish has been recognized by NSIC, NASA, the U.S. Space Force, and Air Force Research Laboratory for its innovation in satellite servicing technologies and has raised over $22 million in venture capital funding to date. Starfish Space launched its Otter Pup demonstration mission in June 2023, with the goal of executing the first-ever docking of two commercial satellites in low-Earth orbit. For more information, please visit www.starfishspace.com.
About Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)
Sole organization leading the planning and execution of U.S. Air Force & U.S. Space Force science & technology programs. Orchestrates a world-wide government, industry & academia coalition in the discovery, development & delivery of a wide range of revolutionary technology. Provides leading-edge warfighting capabilities keeping air, space and cyberspace forces the world’s best. Employs 10,800 military, civilian and contractor personnel at 17 research sites executing an annual $4B budget. For more information, visit: www.afresearchlab.com
The innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within AFRL. Brings cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. Employs military, civilian and contractor personnel at six hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4B budget. Since 2019, has executed 4,671 contracts worth more than $2B to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit: www.afwerx.com.
Image Caption: Starfish is developing its CEPHALOPOD software to enable autonomous satellite docking.
Image Credit: Starfish Space