WASHINGTON — The O’Neil Group, a real estate and asset management company based in Colorado Springs, announced Jan. 18 it is making a strategic investment in Bluestaq, a technology startup that is developing an enterprise data system for the U.S. Space Force. 

Kevin O’Neil, an entrepreneur who has invested in space and defense industry startups, said the company could not disclose the amount of the investment but called it “significant enough to scale Bluestaq nationally.”

Bluestaq, also based in Colorado Springs, last year won a $280 million contract from the Space Force to develop a cloud-based data repository known as the unified data library, or UDL. With just 50 employees, the company is hard pressed to keep up with the demands of the UDL contract and needs to expand, said O’Neil. 

The UDL started out as an experiment by Bluestaq engineers trying to figure out how data could be shared across agencies that had different levels of security clearances. The Space Force gave the company a contract in 2019 to build a repository of space domain awareness data from commercial providers that could be tapped by military users. Since then, the UDL has been expanded to handle multiple types of data from space, air, maritime and ground sensors.

Under the new $280 million contract, Bluestaq is broadening the scope of the UDL beyond space data so it can support the Advanced Battle Management System, an Air Force program intended to connect producers and consumers of data at multiple classification levels to facilitate access and sharing of information.

O’Neil’s investment is critical to meet the growing demand from DoD customers, Bluestaq CEO Seth Harvey said. He expects his company to double in size over the next 18 months.

Most recently, the UDL served as an enabling technology to help manage the Kabul airlift in August, when the U.S. military had to evacuate tens of thousands of troops and civilians amid the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from the Afghanistan. 

U.S. Northern Command and Air Mobility Command needed a capability to track flights in and out of Kabul in real time, said Harvey. “We worked up a game plan to be able to integrate data from multiple sources for real time flight information to give them a total awareness picture, and they used the UDL and other software apps to manage operations.”

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...