WASHINGTON — Cognitive Space, a startup based in Houston, Texas, announced Jan. 10 the appointment of Keith Masback as an independent board member.

Masback is a former National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency official and former president and CEO of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. He is now an angel investor with a broad portfolio of companies, including Cognitive Space.

Cognitive Space develops artificial intelligence software tools to manage remote-sensing constellations and schedule satellite operations. The company has been working with the Air Force Research Laboratory to apply this technology to the operation of a hybrid architecture of government and commercial remote-sensing satellites.

As an independent board member, Masback would provide impartial advice advice and counsel.

Guy de Carufel, founder and CEO of Cognitive Space, said Masback has been an advisor to the company for the past two years.

Masback told SpaceNews he expects Cognitive Space to grow its business as both commercial and government satellite operators need better tools to manage their constellations more efficiently. 

“There’s plenty of traction on the commercial side and we’re seeing interest from the Air Force and others,” he said. 

“Everybody throws around the term ‘hybrid architecture,’” he said. “There’s an art to that to be sure, but there’s also science, and that’s the part that Cognitive Space fills in.”

The demand for space-based remote sensing fueled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not slowing down, he said. “Companies have all seen an infusion of cash through the requirements generated by what’s going on in Europe, and increased concern with respect to Taiwan.”

Regardless of how the Ukraine crisis is ultimately resolved, “this has changed the nature of the application of space based technologies forever,” said Masback.

Meanwhile, the economic climate means companies in the space industry have to adjust their expectations as investors are more demanding. “This is not the middle of 2021,” he said. “The environment has changed, the bar has been raised and the requirements are different.”

In today’s Darwinian reality, “companies have to demonstrate they can meet requirements and have mature technology.”

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...