WASHINGTON — MAG Aerospace is partnering with artificial intelligence specialist SAS to compete for U.S. Space Force data analytics contracts, the companies announced Sept. 6

Based in Fairfax, Virginia, MAG Aerospace is one of 18 vendors the Space Force selected in March for a five-year $900 million indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract overseen by the Space Systems Command.

The IDIQ contract seeks new ways to employ data analytics tools to turn data collected by tracking radars and other sensors into useful intelligence and distribute it to users around the world.  

SAS, based in Cary, North Carolina, developed an AI platform called Viya that can be hosted in any cloud environment, said Grant Brooks, company vice president of public sector sales. 

“The Space Force wants data analytics, software services, AI and machine learning capabilities that can help decision makers analyze information coming out of the space domain,” Brooks said. 

With their cloud-based AI-based analytics, MAG Aerospace and SAS will seek to challenge Palantir, which has won a string of contracts for data-as-a-service.

“Space Force is looking for diverse capabilities,” said Brooks. “They don’t want to be locked in.”

Agencies are trying to be “as nimble as possible rather than tied to a proprietary capability and limited or restricted in how they can access or deploy their data assets,” he said. 

Not task orders have been issued yet

MAG Aerospace’s senior vice president Vincent Mihalik said the company has previously partnered with SAS on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) data integration projects for the U.S. military. 

Mihalik said companies expect the Space Systems Command to start issuing task orders under the IDIQ after Congress passes a 2024 budget. 

“As we understand the intent of the contract, the Space Force seeks to procure an enterprise data storage and data management platform with a scalable open architecture,” he said. “While the types of data products on this contract will vary, we are expecting to ingest a range of datasets, from space domain awareness to personnel readiness.”

Brooks said the Space Force has a “tremendous need for internet-of-things analytics that can analyze massive amounts of sensor and other data in real-time.”

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...