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TAP Lab Accelerator aims to transition space domain prototypes to commercial products
More than 200 attendees receive a briefing from Ms. Barbara Golf, Space Systems Command's strategic advisor for Space Domain Awareness, at SSC's newest Technology, Applications, and Process (TAP) Lab, Oct. 28 in Colorado Springs, Colo. The inaugural kickoff showcased not only the mission of SSC's Accelerator program, but also how the TAP Lab provides a physical space that enhances the collaboration experience. (U.S. Space Force photo: Paul Contoveros)
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TAP Lab Accelerator aims to transition space domain prototypes to commercial products
by Brad Bartz
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Nov 01, 2023

On October 28, Space Systems Command (SSC) rolled out its Technology, Applications, and Process (TAP) Lab Accelerator program aimed at enhancing Space Domain Awareness (SDA). Launched in Colorado Springs, the event was backed by Virginia Tech's Applied Research Corporation (VT-ARC) and MITRE Corporation and attracted over 200 participants from various sectors. The occasion served to highlight the mission of the Accelerator program and also showcased the TAP Lab as a forum designed to foster inter-sector collaboration.

The Accelerator program aims to facilitate partnerships between industry, the Department of Defense, and the academic community. Each contributes a unique set of skills and knowledge crucial for meeting the operational demands of the U.S. Space Force. The program has garnered significant attention due to its focus on streamlining the integration of space domain awareness systems to maximize the utility of data from diverse sources including the Department of Defense, U.S. government agencies, as well as international allies and commercial partners.

Bridging Research and Operational Needs
The program offers a structured platform for entities like the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to collaborate with SSC. One of the primary objectives is to transition innovative software prototypes into commercially viable products. The program plans to host up to four cohorts each year, focusing on various aspects such as threat warning and assessment, and space battle management. Each cohort will work together for three months and could potentially secure follow-on contracts with the Space Force and other governmental organizations.

Real-world Impact and Initial Focus
"Space domain awareness is a complex problem and we need industry to help solve it," noted Maj. Sean Allen, the inaugural chief of the Space Domain Awareness TAP Lab Accelerator. Allen emphasized the importance of multi-sector collaboration in enabling "space superiority missions by avoiding operational surprise, denying the first mover advantage, and aiding responsible counterspace campaigns."

The program's inaugural kickoff emphasized the protection of satellites in geosynchronous orbit from direct ascent anti-satellite weaponry. Attendees included 60 virtual participants and representatives for Colorado's U.S. senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennett, along with U.S. representative Doug Lamborn. Key briefings were conducted by officials from the Canadian Armed Forces, SSC, and various commands of the U.S. Space Force, providing insights into diverse facets of space domain awareness.

Setting the Stage for Effective Collaboration
Participants at the launch were engaged in a "coffee with ops" session, which provided an overview of the TAP Lab Accelerator program. The dialog focused on operational needs of the U.S. Space Force, the mission of the TAP Lab Accelerator, its role in encouraging a lab-style work atmosphere for rapid tech development, and avenues for industry organizations to join the program.

In summary, the TAP Lab Accelerator program sets a precedent for open communication, shared objectives, and efficient teamwork. It aims to meet clear goals by assembling proficient teams, establishing robust channels of communication, and proactively identifying potential risks.

In a Nutshell
Space Systems Command, a field command of the U.S. Space Force, shoulders the responsibility of acquiring and deploying resilient warfighting capabilities. It manages a $15 billion space acquisition budget for the Department of Defense and collaborates with joint forces, industry, and other stakeholders to stay ahead of emerging space threats.

ai.spacewar.com analysis

Relevance Scores:

1. Aerospace and Defense Industry Analyst: 9/10
2. Stock and Finance Market Analyst: 8/10
3. Government Policy Analyst: 10/10

Analyst Summary:

The TAP Lab Accelerator program represents a pivotal development in the Aerospace and Defense sector, with significant implications for public policy, market dynamics, and military strategy. It aims to improve Space Domain Awareness (SDA) through multi-sector collaboration involving academia, the Department of Defense, and industry. Given the operational demands of the U.S. Space Force and increasing global tensions related to space, this initiative could be a game-changer.

From an Aerospace and Defense Industry Analyst's perspective, the program is particularly relevant as it provides opportunities for companies to partner with governmental organizations, potentially leading to follow-on contracts. It fosters an environment for rapid tech development, focused on crucial areas like threat warning and assessment, and space battle management.

For Stock and Finance Market Analysts, the program's focus on streamlining integration of SDA systems means that companies involved could see increased valuation due to strategic importance and potential for government contracts. This could be a growth sector within the aerospace and defense industry.

From a Government Policy Analyst's viewpoint, the initiative holds tremendous significance as it aligns with national security objectives related to space. Multi-sector collaboration ensures that a comprehensive approach is taken to address complex issues like space domain awareness, which includes threat detection and counterspace campaigns.

Historical Context:

Over the last 25 years, there has been an increasing militarization and commercialization of space. The creation of the U.S. Space Force, the growing importance of satellites for both civilian and military applications, and international space competition set the stage for this program. The focus on multi-sector collaboration aligns with the trend of public-private partnerships, exemplified by initiatives like the National Space Strategy.

Investigative Questions:

1. What specific technological innovations is the TAP Lab Accelerator focusing on for immediate development, and how do these relate to current defense technologies?

2. How will the intellectual property be managed between academic, commercial, and governmental entities involved in the program?

3. What is the planned budget allocation for the TAP Lab Accelerator, and how does it fit within the larger $15 billion space acquisition budget for the Department of Defense?

4. How will success metrics be defined for the program, and what are the milestones for each cohort?

5. Are there any international collaborations envisioned, especially considering that the program aims to maximize the utility of data from international allies?

This program encapsulates a cross-sector approach to meet the modern challenges facing the aerospace and defense industry, making it highly relevant from multiple analytical viewpoints.

Related Links
Space Systems Command
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

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