WASHINGTON — Data analytics company Palantir has won a contract to provide software and data services to U.S. Space Force units that track objects in orbit and monitor space traffic.

The contract is for a project called Kobayashi Maru, an effort started last year by the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center to replace decades-old space command-and-control software with modern apps.

Palantir, based in Silicon Valley, was selected for the project by the Space Enterprise Consortium, an organization that SMC created in 2017 to attract startups and nontraditional companies to the defense market. Known as SpEC, the consortium announced the contract award on April 14. The value of the contract was not disclosed.

Contracts awarded by the SpEC are not like traditional military procurements. Members of the consortium, currently about 360, receive solicitations for bids, and one or more winners are selected per project. The companies then develop prototypes that, if successful, can transition to production on a short timeline. For the Kobayashi Maru project, other companies are expected to get contracts in addition to Palantir.

Kobayashi Maru, named after a training program in Star Trek’s Starfleet Academy, was created following a years-long failed effort to develop a Joint Space Operations Center Mission System.

The consortium issued a solicitation for the Kobayashi Maru project on Jan. 20. Bidders were given 15 days to respond.

“The Space C2 (Kobayashi Maru) data-as-a-service platform will provide the United States Space Force a robust and flexible set of data streaming and storage technologies as well as data access patterns for the Space C2 system-of-systems,” according to a program description sent to consortium members. “The vendor shall provide software licenses and professional services (as necessary) to implement this integrated platform and train users.”

The space data services will be tested at the Combined Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California; and at the National Space Defense Center at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. These are the military’s primary units that track space traffic and orbital activities. If the Kobayashi Maru prototype gets good reviews from the operators, “this award may be scaled to the entirety of the Space and Missile Systems Center as well as the DoD enterprise,” said the program description.

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...