WASHINGTON — Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, announced Dec. 7 the opening of a technology accelerator office that will work with commercial companies in the space industry.

Known as SpaceWERX, the new organization will be the “space arm of AFWERX,” Roper said during a virtual event in a joint appearance with Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center. 

Thompson said SpaceWERX will be located at the SMC campus in Los Angeles and will be led by Lt. Col. Rock McMillan. 

“SpaceWERX will align innovation efforts to space operators and space acquisition,” said Thompson. He said Los Angeles is home to many commercial and defense space innovators. “The global space economy continues to grow, and we want to take advantage of that growth, expand the industrial base, and leverage commercial investment,” said Thompson.

SpaceWERX will “help us ensure the Space Force can tap into cutting edge space technologies,” Thompson said. 

AFWERX has been hailed by Roper and other leaders as a success in attracting commercial companies to the defense market. The program conducts challenges and pitch events where companies compete for contracts that get matched by private investors. 

“AFWERX is focused on being a trusted partner for advancing dual-use technologies across the innovation ecosystem,” said Col. Nathan Diller, AFWERX director. 

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced the launch of AFWERX July 21, 2017, during a visit to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. It is based on the SOFWERX model used by Special Operations Command to attract technology startups and do rapid prototyping. 

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...