WASHINGTON —  Sedaro, a startup that develops digital engineering software, won a Space Force contract to demonstrate the use of digital twins to design spacecraft.

The $1.5 million contract announced Aug. 22 is a Small Business Innovation Research Phase 2 award under the Orbital Prime program run by the U.S. Space Force and the Air Force Research Laboratory. 

Robbie Robertson, co-founder and CEO of Sedaro, said the company will use its cloud-based digital engineering software to design prototype spacecraft for missions known as ISAM, short for in-space servicing, assembly and manufacturing.

Digital twins are models that replicate physical prototypes. The military is interested in using digital twins so buyers can tweak the design features of a satellite before they acquire actual hardware.

Modeling ISAM scenarios

For the 15-month project Sedaro is partnering with the academic organizations Space Dynamics Laboratory and Draper Labs. They will use Sedaro’s platform to model ISAM scenarios.

Robertson said Space Dynamics and Draper “will provide user perspectives to inform the design of new features in Sedaro’s platform for modeling ISAM technology like robotic manipulators, cameras and sensors for targeting, docking mechanisms, and refueling ports.”

“Our goal is to develop digital twin software that will accelerate and improve ISAM technology development and deployment — both commercially and for the U.S. Space Force,” said Robertson.

One of the goals of the Orbital Prime program is to find ways to reduce physical prototyping and testing, and instead use digital tools that can be shared by developers and operators, he said. 

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...