Saber Astronautics secures US$1.87m contract to support USAF

Saber Astronautics secures US$1.87m contract to support USAF

Stephen Kuper

The US Air Force has awarded Australia-based Saber Astronautics a US$1.875 million Phase II contract to develop a next-generation space operations concept called the ‘Space Cockpit’.

Space Cockpit is a world-first virtual reality space operations centre that enables operators across US services and allied partners to visualise the local space environment, make rapid decisions, and manage large number of space objects. 

Dr Jason Held, Saber Astronautics CEO, said, "This is an exciting project that leaps years ahead of current space operations capability. Space Cockpit makes it easy to control large numbers of satellites in an increasingly busy environment." 

Saber’s engineers completed a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I program that was demonstrated to US Air Force operators in Colorado Springs last February. Initial prototypes built off of Saber’s heritage Predictive Interactive Groundstation Interface (PIGI) were used to show fundamental concepts in constellation design and operational control for military missions.

"The number of satellites in orbit is expected to triple in the next 10 years, so this is equally important for military and civilian operators alike," Dr Held added. 

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The contract with the USAF is part of a new 'Rapid' acquisition program, where Phase II SBIR can allow larger projects if matching funding is directly available from a US DoD customer.

Saber Astronautics will deploy the technology to military customers and provide civilian services to the commercial space sector at the end of 2020. 

Saber Astronautics’ mission is to reduce barriers to space flight, making it more accessible to people on Earth. Saber’s PIGI is a next-generation space mission control software developed by an experienced team of space operations, systems control, UX and robotics experts.

PIGI brings together the latest techniques in human factors, artificial intelligence and dynamic 3D data visualisation to make it easy for spacecraft operators to monitor, fly and rapidly diagnose faults in spacecraft systems.

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