WASHINGTON — U.S. defense contractor SAIC and space monitoring firm LeoLabs have signed an agreement to jointly develop a space-tracking software platform.

The companies are working on a prototype that they plan to roll out later this year, Mathew Hungerford, chief technology officer of SAIC’s space business, told SpaceNews

LeoLabs is a commercial provider of space traffic management services and data focused on low Earth orbit. It operates a global network of space-monitoring phased array radars at six sites around the world

SAIC and LeoLabs will build a space tracking tool on the Koverse data management platform, used by defense agencies and financial services firms because of its advanced zero-trust security features. Koverse was acquired by SAIC in 2021. 

Data will be analyzed with SAIC’s new data science platform called Tenjin, designed to make artificial intelligence and machine-learning accessible to non-technical users, Hungerford said.

The companies’ space-tracking platform would ingest data from the U.S. military’s space-track.org, conjunction data messages from LeoLabs and other sources such as the Space Force’s Unified Data Library.

The idea is to support “unique government use cases and data access requirements while leveraging LeoLabs’ commercial technology capabilities,” he said.

LeoLabs’ West Australian Space Radar.

Under the agreement, SAIC and LeoLabs will design and build a prototype system, he said. 

“We expect to have a minimum viable product available by year’s end,” Hungerford said. Potential customers are the Department of Commerce’s space traffic management office, the U.S. Space Force’s space-tracking units and other government organizations that are seeking more advanced tools to analyze objects in space and improve the safety of spacecraft in orbit. 

The plan is to provide space visualizations, similar to what LeoLabs offers to customers today, and add other features such as “machine to machine” messages that help predict close approaches in orbit, Hungerford said. 

LeoLabs CEO and co-founder Dan Ceperley said the agreement with SAIC will give the company increased visibility with government agencies. 

“LeoLabs is proud to partner with SAIC to provide a greater level of awareness for government agencies into space activities with continuous, reliable conjunction data and insights,” he said in a statement. 

LeoLabs earlier this year unveiled new data showing on-orbit maneuvers by Chinese and Russian satellites. This type of data in the past was not available from commercial sources.

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...