Emergent Awarded NASA Contract for Onboard Conjunction Assessment Flight Software

Emergent Space Technologies awarded NASA Contract for Prototyping Onboard Autonomous Conjunction Assessment Flight Software

November, 2021

Emergent Space Technologies, Inc. (Emergent) was awarded a Phase II Sequential STTR contract with NASA to prototype flight software for autonomous onboard conjunction assessment and collision avoidance. The software will leverage the capabilities of Emergent’s flight-proven Autopilot and Navigator products to provide navigation, orbit maneuvering, and conjunction assessment with Emergent’s Commander autonomy engine managing the monitoring and responses to avoid potential collisions for the host spacecraft. “The global space industry plans to launch over 100,000 satellites by 2030 and moving collision avoidance monitoring into the space segment will improve safety and accuracy while avoiding an explosion in operational costs”, according to Austin Probe, the project’s Principal Investigator (PI).

To develop, test and demonstrate the prototype, Emergent has partnered with Dr. Moriba Jah who leads the University of Texas at Austin’s Computational Astronautical Sciences and Technologies group (aka the CAST) within the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (UT-Austin). Dr. Jah, the Research Institution PI for the project, will lead his students in extending ground-based software developed by NASA, leveraging ASTRIAGraph, to ensure satellite safety by providing an onboard catalog of space objects that have the potential to collide with the host spacecraft to Emergent’s flight software. UT-Austin will also investigate a framework for data-driven decision-making in the presence of high probability conjunction events that can support the development of a set of guidelines or “rules of the road” for Space Traffic Management (STM) and support future operational autonomous space infrastructure. “Space safety, security, and sustainability are inarguably humanity’s next wicked problem with consequences to climate change, and my program here at UT Austin seeks to create knowledge and solutions to this through transdisciplinary and collaboratively holistic approaches. Our transdisciplinary work to date shows great merit, and we are honored to be engaged in this with Emergent and NASA”, said Dr. Jah.

Emergent and UT-Austin are working with the Starling satellite swarm technology demonstration mission team at NASA Ames Research Center and with the NASA Satellite Safety’s Conjunction Assessment Risk Analysis (CARA) program at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on the prototyping and demonstration of this autonomous conjunction assessment suite and is targeting a potential flight experiment as part of the Starling extended mission. This contract extends prior successful Phase II development work that led to the creation of Emergent’s Commander product and continues its history of successfully developing and deploying SBIR/STTR-funded technologies. 

About Emergent Space Technologies: 

Emergent Space Technologies, Inc. researches, develops, integrates, and tests advanced systems and software solutions for civil, military and commercial space missions. We are industry leaders in the development of flight software for multi-spacecraft missions, including constellations, formations, and clusters of small satellites. Our core competencies are systems engineering, integration, and test; guidance, navigation, and control; orbital mechanics; positioning, navigation and timing; advanced modeling and simulation; and SW architecture, design, development and test. Our domain expertise and experience, combined with our knowledge of current and emerging technology, make Emergent the team of choice in the aerospace industry. 

Marketing and Sales Contact

Graham Davis: graham.davis@emergentspace.com 

About the Computational Astronautical Sciences and Technologies (CAST): 
The Computational Astronautical Sciences and Technologies (CAST) group pursues research that few other research groups are positioned to address related to wicked problems of space safety, security, and sustainability, as well as generalized astronautics. In essence, the group explores problems by embracing the full physical and societal complexities via large scale computing. Instead of focusing on optimization and simplification, the focus is on completeness and rigor where the community can benefit by using the work as a datum for validating optimization and simplifications. The CAST has the following focus areas: (a) uncertainty quantification, (b) space object motion and characterization, (c) data-driven decision intelligence (to include data engineering, science, and analytics). 

Communications Manager at Oden Institute

Johnny Holden: jholden@oden.utexas.edu