The Air Force Small Business Innovation Research program is soliciting proposals so support operations beyond geosynchronous Earth orbit. Cislunar operations is one of three space-focus areas in a pre-solicitation notice released Dec. 10 by the Air Force technology accelerator known as AFWERX.
Space News reports that the Air Force wants: payloads for providing space domain awareness from the lunar surface, lightweight sensors for space-based space domain awareness; methodologies for orbit determination and catalog maintenance in cislunar space; concepts for providing position, navigatiion and timing solutions for cislunar space operations; visualization of cislulnar orbits; and terrestrial-based concepts for achieving space domain awareness of cislunar space.
The Air Force also is seeking technologies to improve the performance of small satellites, which can be manufactured and launched quickly. Space News elaborates:
“The Air Force wants compact, high power energy generation and storage concepts; on-board processing; broadband communication antennas and software defined radios; advanced attitude control sensors; thermal control systems; advanced manufacturing technologies; propulsion concepts supporting green fuels; low-cost, mass-producible payloads; and modular, open source flight sotware and cyber security technologies.”
The third category of solicitations concentrates on “ubiquitous satellite command, control and operations.”
According to Space News, a hybrid architecture of GEO spacecraft, distributed small satellites networks in multiple orbits “creates a complex command and control challenge for future Air Force missions.” As these networks grow, traditional human-in-the-loop operations becomes cumbersome. “We are seeking technologies that enable rapid, ubiquitous command and control of satellite constellations that also support rapid operator decision making.”