The Department of the Air Force will formally launch a new entity on Aug. 19th under the larger AFWERX innovation group to develop on-orbit technologies for the U.S. Space Force in collaboration with small businesses and university researchers.
SpaceWERX will use existing AFWERX tools to connect space personnel and acquisition professionals with the commercial and academic sectors for development work, the Air Force Research Laboratory said Wednesday.
The department plans to hold a pitch event on the SpaceWerX kickoff day and award up to $34 million to startup companies that are pursuing Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contracts.
AFWERX is also scheduled to start its SpacePrime initiative in late August with the goal to mature emerging technology using the Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) program's open topic approach.
“Space Prime is our strong signal to academia, industry, investment, interagency, and international partners on a specific mission area where we aim to energize the space industrial base and develop on-orbit capability in an accelerated timeline," said Lt. Col. Walter McMillan, director of SpaceWERX. “We are targeting operational capability in two to four years," McMillan added.
The Air Force's technology accelerator intends to release an STTR solicitation notice in the fall and expects to attract teams of small businesses and universities to the initial space technology project.