Amazon Web Services selects 14 startups for space accelerator

The cohort of startups will use AWS and its resources to accelerate the research and development of their technologies and boost their growth

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has selected 14 startups to join its 2023 Space Accelerator, a technical and business mentorship programme designed to spur the growth of space-related startups.

Through the accelerator – which is focused on how cloud-based tools and systems can support the development of various space-related technologies – the 14 startups will receive a variety of business development resources from May 2023.

This includes expert mentorship and networking opportunities with other startups in the cohort, as well as AWS customers and members of the AWS Partner Network (APN), and access to technical subject matter experts.

Selected startups will also receive $100,000 in AWS promotional credits to help accelerate their missions in the cloud, which range from 3D-printed space vehicles and orbital robots to artificial intelligence (AI)-powered satellites.

“Innovation is in our DNA,” said Clint Crosier, director of AWS’s aerospace and satellite business. “It’s incredibly exciting to work with innovative new space companies that want to tackle bold new challenges using the AWS cloud.”

Following on from a four-week curriculum, the startups will participate in a demo day in San Francisco on 19 July.

The 14 firms include Delta-V Analytics, a cloud-based platform that automates satellite constellation operations via digital twin technology; Gate Space, a space propulsion company for improved mobility in satellite and orbital transfer vehicles; In Orbit Aerospace, which operates uncrewed orbital platforms and re-entry vehicles to support manufacturing in space; and logistics platform Integrate.

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A number of other companies are working on space-based analytics and monitoring technologies, including Grasp, which develops satellite instruments and products to provide a complete picture of the Earth’s atmosphere and surface; Little Place Labs, which uses machine learning algorithms deployed on space infrastructure to gain insights for various commercial and national security clients; and Lunasonde, which uses low-frequency radar for sub-surface exploration of the Earth.

Other startups include Kawa Space, which provides signal intelligence and maritime domain awareness as a service; Nominal, which provides validation software for hardware firms; Raven Space Systems, which is building 3D printed re-entry capsules for on-demand cargo return from space; and autonomous robotics firm Rogue Space Systems.

The remaining startups are Space Kinetic, which is working on a solar-powered propulsion system; Violet Labs, which is building cloud-based software integration for complex hardware engineering; and Xona Space Systems, which enables modern technologies to operate safely in any environment, anywhere on Earth through a commercial “super-GPS”.

The first Space Accelerator programme was launched in June 2021, and saw 10 startups selected, including Cognitive Space, D-Orbit and LeoLabs, which worked on logical problems such as precisely tracking debris in low Earth orbit or managing small satellite constellations, and Lunar Outpost, which focused on sustainable space exploration tech such as autonomous robots.

The remaining six startups – Descartes Labs, Edgybees, Hawkeye 360, Orbital Sidekick, Satellite VU and Ursa Space – all used space-derived data and insights to perform a range of functions for their clients, from bolstering environmental and sustainability efforts, as well as agricultural productivity, to preparing disaster responses and humanitarian assistance.

In late 2022, AWS announced it had successfully deployed a suite of computing and machine learning software on an orbiting satellite in a first-of-its-kind space experiment, which was conducted with D-Orbit from the first Space Accelerator cohort.

During the experiment, the team applied various machine learning models on satellite sensor data to identify specific objects in the sky, such as clouds and wildfire smoke, and objects on Earth, including buildings and ships.

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