Three startups win US Space Force accelerator award

Varda Space Industries, SCOUT and Neutron Star Systems were the first three startups of the Hyperspace Challenge 2021

WASHINGTON – Space industry startups focused on satellite propulsion, in-orbit manufacturing and debris tracking have won an award from a US Space Force-funded business accelerator.

The accelerator known as the Hyperspace Challenge, operated by the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Space Force’s SpaceWERX program, announced on December 2 that Varda Space Industries, SCOUT and Neutron Star Systems were awarded $ 25,000 (first place), $ 15,000 (second place) and $ 10,000 (third place), respectively.

In addition to cash prizes, companies have access to government mentors and information on future contract opportunities. Thirteen startups competed for the 2021 awards.

Varda Space Industries, founded in 2020, earlier this year raised $ 42 million in Series A funding to develop a manufacturing facility to make products in space that can be brought back to Earth. The Space Force is interested in the company’s payload capsules for delivering cargo from space.

SCOUT, a two-year-old start-up, has developed a spatial optical sensor and payload system for collision avoidance and object detection in space.

Neutron Star Systems, of Cologne, Germany, is developing a superconductor-based electric propulsion system as a lower cost alternative to other forms of electric propulsion currently in use for satellites.

The Hyperspace accelerator also selected three universities: Stevens Institute of Technology, for its artificial intelligence technology; SUNY Polytechnic Institute, for neural networks that could help track satellite debris; and Texas State University, for his research into the effects of vibration in the microgravity production of heavy metal fluoride glass.

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