ExoAnalytic Solutions provides much-needed tracking of near-geosynchronous orbit satellites during Air Force electro-optical sensor gaps and saves $37 million.
With the support of the Small Business Innovation Research / Small Business Technology Transfer program, California-based ExoAnalytic Solutions, Inc. has developed a ground-based electro-optical sensor system that fills space situational awareness gaps when Air Force sensors are down.
The research and development for the Highly-mobile Autonomous Rapidly Relocatable Integrated Electro-optical Resources (HARRIER) System was developed in conjunction with Texas A&M Experiment Station in College Station, Texas and the Georgia Institution of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Air Force operates, sustains, and maintains the Space Surveillance Network (SSN). The SSN is a global network of custom-built electro-optical sensors that perform space situational awareness (SSA) tasks. These sensors are expensive to build and maintain, and can remain non-operational for extended periods of time. During these gaps, ExoAnalytic Solutions provides continuous accurate data on geosynchronous orbit
(GEO) satellites. With this development, the United States is better able to protect GEO space assets, which serve critical warfighter applications.
The enhanced sensitivity of the HARRIER system facilitates diverse mission applications in the areas of maneuver monitoring and photometric monitoring. ExoAnalytic Solutions is able to pursue additional research and development in these areas. ExoAnalytic Solutions is currently marketing potential utility for both the commercial marketplace and government customers.
Due to the HARRIER project, ExoAnalytic Solutions has increased their status as a lead developer in commercial SSA. Its success validates the quality of the company's data and verifies that their performance matches the utility of the SSN. The trust built in commercial SSA products may potentially lead to an increase in related commercial sales.
BEHIND THE TECHNOLOGY
SSN sensors are expensive to create, manage, and maintain, and can remain non-operational for extended periods of time (due to weather, maintenance, natural disasters, or attack). When space situational awareness sensors are non-operational, the United States is essentially blind to activities in near GEO, resulting in a critical SSA gap. Before the HARRIER was developed, the United States had no low-cost solution to these periods of downtime.
ExoAnalytic Solutions successfully designed and demonstrated tracking of near-GEO resident space objects (RSOs) using a rapidly-constructed low-cost ground based electro-optical sensor with utility matching optical sensors from the SSN.
HARRIER leveraged existing ExoAnalytic Solutions sensors that currently deliver Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance (GEODSS) class performance using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) sensors, and ExoAnalytic Solutions commercial ESpOC software. Data from these sensors were combined using software developed on the HARRIER effort to achieve space surveillance telescope (SST) class minimum detectable target (MDT) performance.
ExoAnalytic is in the process of working with outside customers to move the technology to a Phase III within the next year.
SBIR FUNDING AND AFRL/RDSMR’s EXPERTISE WERE CRITICAL
The Small Business Innovation Research program and the Air Force Research Lab’s funding and expertise were essential for the development and improvement of ExoAnalytic Solutions Space Operations Center (ESpOC) software and the HARRIER System.
With an SBIR contract of $1.19 million in Phase I and II, the HARRIER System was able to demonstrate a greatly improved tracking magnitude, aiming to expand the detection of dim objects and closely spaced objects. It is estimated that this new system will save the Air Force around $37 million.
SBIR funding allowed for ExoAnalytic Solutions to deploy the capability developed in Phase I and demonstrate it by tracking magnitude 19 to 21 space objects from multiple co-located ground-based telescopes. In addition, during the Phase II extension period, ExoAnalytic Solutions planned and executed demonstration operations with customer input for 40 nights of viewing using the 10 fielded telescopes. This validated the HARRIER System performance as having utility matching optical sensors from the SSN.
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