2019 Hyperspace Challenge and Space Startup Summit

Imagine a satellite smaller than a dollar bill, a thruster that accelerates via green energy, or modular ‘furniture’ built for satellite sensors in space.  These aren’t ideas in the latest science fiction novel. These are just a few of the inspiring inventions that were brought to Albuquerque last week for Hyperspace Challenge.

Hyperspace Challenge, a 3-day collaboration between technology startups from around the globe and government agencies, brought together some of the most exciting emerging technologies in the small satellite community with the people that have real world problems needing answers. 

The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) New Mexico and ABQid selected 14 teams out of almost 100 applicants, all with potential answers to one of the problem statements for this year’s competition.  They met, discussed, and innovated with problem sponsors from the Navy, USAF, NASA, and AFRL. What culminated was the inaugural Space Startup Summit at Glorieta Station, where the teams gave a 4-minute pitch about how their technologies can help solve some of the questions that hold back our advancements in space.

Surrounded by neon signs, antique cars, and hundreds of spectators, ranging from leaders in the space industries to inquiring minds, 3 of the companies walked away with cash prizes. 

 The winner of this year’s Hyperspace Challenge, taking home the grand prize of $25,000 is a team that already has 350+ systems in space with 100% success rate. NearSpace Launch focuses on communication, power management, and modular instrumentation frameworks for CubeSats, ThinSats (smaller than a dollar), and more. They also spend a lot of their time educating the next generation of researchers and space scientists through innovative educational programs.

The first runner up, Tesseract Space, added $15,000 to help finance their chemical propulsion for satellites, spacecraft, and landers, focusing on green propulsion.

The second runner up, taking home $10,000 was SmartCone Technologies that provides a modular Internet of Things platform for sensors for a variety of solutions surrounding safety, security, and asset tracking.

The judges making the hard decision through the use of ValidEval were Col. Eric Felt, AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate; Matt Fetrow, Director of Tech Engagement Office for AFRL; Lauren Hunt, Director of Economic Development for AFRL SmallSat Portfolio; Synthia Jaramiillo, Director of Economic Development for the City of Albuquerque; Dorian Rader, Managing Partner of NMA Ventures; and Samantha Sengel, VP Advancement and Enrollment Strategy of CNM Community College.

The Space Startup Summit also featured some of the brightest minds in the space industry today. The keynote speaker about the State of the Space Startup Industry was Van Espahbodi of Starburst Ventures. Van champions today’s aerospace renaissance by uniting early-stage technologies with private investment to modernize infrastructure in mobility, communications, and intelligence.

 The panel of experts on the Future of Government Collaboration in Space consisted of: 

  • Maureen Gannon, Co-Founder and VP of Business Development of X-Bow Launch Systems, where she leads commercial and government partnerships.
  • Cliff Massey, Head of Operations and Strategy for CrowdAI, the winner of the 2018 Hyperspace Challenge, that creates tools to enable users to automate computer vision tasks trough  AI.
  • Bon Strout, USAF Master Sergeant, is a Survive, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) specialist that has a proven record of scouting innovation, cutting edge technology that protects the lives of our service men and women in emergency situations.
  • Dr. Peter Wegner, the Chief Strategy Officer at Spaceflight Industries, focuses on removing the complexities and high costs of getting to space that were once prohibitive so that they can use “up there to make down here better.”

 Even the companies that didn’t take home a cash prize, walked away with an unforgettable and trajectory-changing experience. The benefits of the introductions, new ideas, and possible collaborations for the future of their technologies have already begun to emerge, according to the organizers of the Hyperspace Challenge. The complete list of participating companies that are helping to shape the future of the SmallSat community in the space industry are: 

Analytical Space Cambridge, Massachusetts

Benchmark Space Systems Burlington, Vermont

Cognitive Space Houston, Texas

Granular.aiSomerville, Massachusetts

iMetalX Group San Francisco, California

More Cowbell UnlimitedLake Oswego, Oregon

NearSpace Launch Inc.Upland, Indiana

Novo SpaceEl Segundo, California

Orbital SidekickSan Francisco, California

Phase Four – El Segundo, California

SmartCone TechnologiesOntario, Canada and San Diego, California

Space Initiatives Inc. – Palm Bay, Florida

Summation – Melbourne, Florida

Tesseract Space – Livermore, CA

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