WASHINGTON — A new accelerator program funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory and the U.S. Space Force announced Oct. 27 it has selected six U.S. and international startups for its first cohort.

The program called “Soft Landing” was created to attract space industry startups to New Mexico, where AFRL is based. The lab has been actively supporting the space industry, sponsoring the Hyperspace and Catalyst Campus accelerator programs.

Gabe Mounce, deputy director of SpaceWERX, said these accelerators help businesses figure out how they might work with the federal government. “And we are making it easier for the Space Force and other government partners to learn about emerging technologies,” he said. 

SpaceWERX is a new Space Force organization that works with small businesses and startups. 

The Soft Landing program is run by Q Station, a collaborative workspace in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that is supported by AFRL and the Space Force. The companies will be given free workspace for a year; a paid university intern; and business assistance in government contracting, public relations, marketing and finance.

The startups selected: 

Blue Eye Soft, based in South Carolina, develops artificial intelligence models that predict satellite anomalies due to space weather events.

Equatorial Space Systems, based in Singapore, develops hybrid-engine rockets and space launch services.

Leaf Space, based in Italy, provides ground segment solutions as a service.

Neutron Star Systems, based in Germany, is developing an electric propulsion system for space vehicles. 

Rogue Space Systems, based in New Hampshire, is developing a smart spacecraft for in-space services.

SPiN Tech, based in Germany, makes a universal adapter for incompatible satellite components to plug-and-play.

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...