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Washington Issues Multiple Award High-Energy Laser Prototype Contract: Week in Brief: 03/24/23

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WASHINGTON, D.C., March 24, 2023 — The U.S. Department of Defense awarded Rolls-Royce North American Technologies (doing business as Liberty Works), General Atomics, Dynetics, II-VI Aerospace & Defense, Lockheed Martin Aculight Corp., nLIGHT Nutronics, and NUBURU a combined $75 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity, multiple award contract for the fabrication and delivery of prototypes and equipment in support of solid-state high-energy laser weapon systems. Work is expected to be completed by March 2028.

SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass. — Block MEMS was awarded a $2.2 million contract by Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division (NSWC IHD) to further develop and supply an advanced spectrometer using Block’s proprietary quantum cascade lasers. The program will build on Block’s recently concluded contract “Standoff Illuminator for Measuring Absorbance and Reflectance Infrared Light Signatures” (SILMARILS) program funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity. The instrument incorporates the most advanced infrared detectors and lasers to help NSWC IHD accomplish its mission.

KISTA, Sweden — Through its business unit Sivers Wireless, Sivers Semiconductors AB signed a development agreement for an advanced satellite communication solution with Thorium Space, an advanced satellite communication systems company. The agreement is a first step in the development of advanced chipsets for SATCOM ground terminals as well as space deployment. The value of the agreement is $1.85 million. Development activities for this agreement begin this month and are planned to run through the end of 2023.

MINNEAPOLIS — The board of directors of polymer 3D printing company Stratasys unanimously rejected the unsolicited proposal it received from Nano Dimension to acquire Stratasys for $18 per share in cash, or over $1 billion. Following the review, the Stratasys board said that it concluded that Nano’s proposal substantially undervalues the company in light of its stand-alone prospects and is not in the best interests of Stratasys and its shareholders.

CHICAGO — The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), part of the University of Illinois system, and DESY, a national accelerator in Germany, established a partnership to advance the commercialization of their research and support the launch of businesses in each city. In 2026, DESY will open an integrated startup hub, the DESY Innovation Factory, to commercialize technologies built on its basic research and foster open innovation initiatives together with industry, which will be the primary connection point for joint activities with DPI. Also in 2026, DPI plans to open its innovation center on the Chicago River. Spinoffs from DESY are focusing on photonics and laser systems, detector and sensor technologies, and robotics and life sciences. 

NEW YORK — Private equity firm ATL Partners formed LightRidge Solutions, a portfolio company focused on the development, design, and production of small, affordable, high-performance space and airborne sensors and payloads. LightRidge’s offerings will supports national security needs. The newly formed company is composed of GEOST LLC, a provider of high-end space payloads acquired by ATL in 2021. Bill Gattle, a 35-year industry veteran and previous president of L3 Harris Technologies’ Space business, will lead the company as CEO.

ROUBAIX, France — OVHcloud, a provider of cloud services to Europe, announced its purchase of a photonic processor-powered quantum computer, MosaiQ, designed by Quandela, a developer of full-stack optical quantum computers that are available both on cloud and on premises. OVHcloud said it targets various use cases for the newly acquired quantum processing unit.

REDMOND, Wash. — MicroVision Inc., a developer of microelectromechanical systems- (MEMS)-based solid-state automotive lidar and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) solutions launched its MOSAIK validation suite. The technology enables automotive OEM and Tier 1 customers to validate their ADAS and autonomous vehicle platforms. In addition, MicroVision added Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) as a customer for its MOSAIK software suite to enable enhanced automated driving capabilities and safety features for its fleet of next-generation cars. MicroVision has previous engagements with OEMs BMW and Vinfast, it said.
Cognitive Space and Terran Orbital announced a Software-as-a-Service AI-driven automated mission management, with the onboarding of the Terran Orbital-built GeoStare SV2 spacecraft onto Cognitive Space’s CNTIENT software platform. Courtesy of Cognitive Space.

Cognitive Space and Terran Orbital announced a software-as-a-service AI-driven automated mission management, with the onboarding of the Terran Orbital-built GeoStare SV2 spacecraft onto Cognitive Space’s CNTIENT software platform. Courtesy of Cognitive Space.
HOUSTON — Cognitive Space, a Texas-based company applying artificial intelligence (AI) to space constellation mission management, collections planning, and communications link coordination; and Terran Orbital, a manufacturer of satellite products primarily serving the aerospace and defense industries, announced a software-as-a-service (SaaS) AI-driven automated mission management, with the onboarding of the Terran Orbital-built GeoStare SV2 spacecraft onto Cognitive Space’s CNTIENT software platform. A dual-use, Earth observation and non-Earth imaging (NEI) spacecraft owned and operated by Terran Orbital, GeoStare SV2 features a compact optical payload that can collect medium-resolution images night or day via its agile boresight capabilities. The CNTIENT platform is a SaaS AI-driven suite of modular services that augments the ground segment of constellations. By leveraging machine learning in a scalable cloud computing environment, CNTIENT balances order priority, fleet, spacecraft, and system resources and constraints to optimize collection planning and link management. Both Earth observations and NEI collections are handled through the CNTIENT platform.

LOS ANGELES — Pixxel, which is building a constellation of the high-resolution hyperspectral Earth-imaging satellites, was awarded a five-year contract by the NRO Commercial Systems Program Office under the Strategic Commercial Enhancements Broad Agency Announcement for Commercial Hyperspectral Capabilities. Pixxel will provide technical hyperspectral imagery remote sensing capabilities via modeling and simulation and data evaluation per the contract. The company will demonstrate its capabilities through end-to-end tasking, collection, and product dissemination, and respond to ad-hoc product ordering and delivery requests from the NRO and its partners.

Published: March 2023
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