WASHINGTON — The Defense Innovation Unit issued a new solicitation for proposals from private companies for a project known as the Hybrid Space Architecture, an initiative launched in 2021 to mesh commercial satellite broadband innovations with military networks.

DIU is working with the U.S. Space Force and the Air Force Research Laboratory on efforts to connect satellite networks and ground communications systems so military users can get data faster and more securely than is currently possible. 

Based in Mountain View, California, DIU was established in 2015 to help DoD access and integrate commercial technologies from startup companies and other non-traditional defense contractors. The organization serves as a bridge between defense agencies and commercial tech companies.

The Hybrid Space Architecture aims to take advantage of commercial satellite broadband services, in-space laser communication, cloud computing, quantum-secure encryption and other innovations.

Eight vendors so far selected

DIU in 2022 selected eight companies to work on the project: Aalyria, Anduril, Atlas Space Operations, Enveil. SpiderOak Mission Systems, Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s Project Kuiper and Microsoft Azure Space. Companies get contracts to prototype concepts so their value can be evaluated.

The new solicitation released Nov. 29 focuses on four key areas: persistent sensing, data transport, high-performance edge computing and data fusion. Proposals are due Dec. 11.

Persistent sensing includes commercial solutions for space-based sensing, for routing and managing commercial collection requests, and for accessing commercial sensor data. 

Data transport focuses on free space optical components that are scalable to enable low latency, persistent communications.

High performance edge computing includes commercial solutions necessary for the autonomous processing of advanced analytics and algorithms at the edge, for more timely delivery of information to users. 

Data fusion focuses on secure ways to aggregate data to enable modeling, simulation and mission planning.

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...