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Saber Astronautics to develop App Store for US Space Force

Saber Astronautics has won a US Department of Defense contract to build a pipeline distributing commercial space applications to US Space Force (USSF) Guardians.

The US$1.25 million Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Direct to Phase II contract will be Space Force’s first platform for third party applications. The “Space Applications Marketplace”, or SAM, provides developers of innovative space software applications a direct path to sales within the US DoD ecosystem.

Characterised as an ‘app store for space’, Boulder, Colorado-based Saber (which is also based in Sydney) will build SAM on top of its USSF deployed space domain awareness software, Space Cockpit™. This provides the Space Force immediate access to products made by the store’s community while the community will be able to directly reach DoD end users.

Saber CEO, Dr Jason Held explains, “The US Space Force is embracing innovation as a core component of their culture.  They recognize that part of the challenge is finding new talent, either from within their own workforce, startup communities, or traditional suppliers.  Likewise, we run across innovators every day who are developing exceptional products that never see operational use. SAM bridges that gap.“

Space Cockpit received a Certificate to Field (CtF) and Continuous Authority to Operate (CATO) in 2019, signifying Space Cockpit passed all technical, legal and security checks, and is directly deployed and in use by hundreds of operators in the USSF. SAM will reduce the deployment waiting period from years to a few months, overcoming many of the challenges between development and deployment to the US DoD.

Currently, small innovative companies with products funded by the US Space Force can struggle through a long gap (often called the ‘Valley of Death’) between development and deployment to military users. The Valley of Death is the rigorous, often years-long testing and checks products must go through before deployment. In this period, small companies often need investments in order to survive, many innovative projects never deploy as the company drains the available finances just waiting.

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