WASHINGTON — Freedom Space Technologies announced it is partnering with defense contractor Omni Federal to develop a next-generation ground system for U.S. Space Force missile-warning satellites.
A subsidiary of Atlas Space Operations, Freedom Space provides a cloud-based software platform used to manage satellite ground systems.
Omni Federal was one of four companies that won $9.7 million contracts from the U.S. Space Force to develop competing ground systems for a project known as FORGE C2 — or Future Operationally Resilient Ground Evolution Command and Control.
The Space Force will assess the designs in 2025 and select one or more to continue further development.
FORGE C2 aims to overhaul the Space Force’s legacy missile-warning satellites’ command and control systems with a unified modern platform. The Space Force wants to modernize the ground systems that control existing and future geostationary and polar orbit satellites that provide early warning of missile launches anywhere in the world.
The agreement with Omni Federal is the first contract win for Colorado-based Freedom Space, formed by Atlas Space Operations to focus on national security programs.
Atlas Space Operations, a seven-year-old startup based in Michigan, uses a network management platform to connect satellite antennas and create a federated network, so unused capacity from one ground station can be leveraged by other customers in the network.
John Williams, CEO of Atlas Space Operations, said the company now has 50 antennas in its network, located around the world.
Williams, a former Viasat executive, said the selection of the Freedom Space platform for the FORGE program was “a validation of our investment” in a government-focused subsidiary.
In an interview with SpaceNews, Williams said Atlas Space is bringing in new investors and plans to complete a C series funding round in the spring.
On the commercial side, the company faces competition from the likes of KSAT, SSC Space and Leaf Space.
“Where our software is attractive is in its ability to operate a network,” Williams said. “It’s not just about the antennas.”
Atlas Space’s network of antennas can support different orbits and frequency bands. One of the newer additions will be antennas to support operations in lunar orbits, a capability that the company is adding at the request of an undisclosed customer.
One of the company’s commercial customers is the startup Sidus Space, which will use Atlas Space’s global network of ground stations for the LizzieSat constellation.
On the government side, Williams said he expects to soon announce another contract win for Freedom Space.
The company is one of several commercial firms selected by the Defense Innovation Unit for the so-called hybrid space architecture project. The plan is to demonstrate a federated network of commercial and government antennas that the Air Force Research Laboratory will experiment with.
The Defense Department spends billions of dollars on dedicated ground stations but is now also starting to embrace commercial options, Williams said.
“To me, there’s a sea change in acceptance of commercial services,” he said, “and a recognition that commercial actually can give DoD capabilities that are relevant.”