June 22, 2024

Advancing Digital Growth

Pioneering Technological Innovation

Space Force seeking a digital overhaul of its aging launch infrastructure

2 min read

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force is soliciting proposals from the private sector for a new initiative — ‘digital spaceport of the future’ — focused on modernizing outdated information systems at the nation’s space launch facilities. 

The project is being run by the Space Force’s technology arm SpaceWERX and the Assured Access to Space office that oversees the nation’s space launch ranges, including the world’s busiest spaceport at Cape Canaveral, Florida. 

“SpaceWERX, in partnership with Assured Access to Space, is seeking cutting-edge ideas and state-of-the-art capabilities that will advance the United States Space Force’s digital transformation, hardware modernization, and operational enhancement of our current and future spaceports,” said the solicitation. 

Decades-old infrastructure

Companies are asked to submit proposals through the DoD Small Business Innovation Research portal. Bidders have to be U.S. firms and comply with other SBIR requirements. SpaceWERX has not yet released specifics on the projected value of contract awards. 

“The United States’ current space launch infrastructure was designed in the 1970s and 1980s and pre-dates the Internet,” SpaceWERX said. “While we’re currently able to meet national security space lift missions, our capacity to support public and private sector demand for access to space is falling behind.”

Officials compare the current situation to running a modern business with a rotary phone. Spaceports should “reflect the operational efficiency and agility of the commercial companies it serves,” said the solicitation. 

“Accustomed to fast-paced and responsive operations, commercial companies expect the spaceport to offer agile, reliable, and rapid services, a significant shift from the current response times that span weeks, months, or even years.”

The digital spaceport of the future challenge will focus on three areas:

  • The infrastructure layer: Establish high-quality interfaces between legacy and modern hardware and software, resulting in seamless operability. Ensure compatibility with the existing spaceport infrastructure. Develop a capability for high-capacity supply chains with the capability for rapid launch site migration. Facilitate real-time data access to enable informed decision making. Provide cyber defense mechanisms to protect data integrity and security.
  • The data layer: Data management represents the most critical deficiency today.  Data needs to be “immediately actionable” and managed in a central, secure repository. A key need is compression and encryption methods to enable faster and more secure data transfer across both the open internet and government networks.
  • The application layer: This requires technologies to provide instant access to standardized data, facilitating internal and external communications to streamline collaborative efforts, and enable the replacement of legacy systems with solutions that allow for easy upgrades.


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