Space Systems Command establishes new avenue to connect with industry, academia, and government through its Commercial Space Marketplace for Innovation and Collaboration center

  • Published
  • By Linda Kane, SSC Public Affairs
Against the backdrop of newly painted walls and state-of-the-art collaboration tools, Space Systems Command (SSC) cut the ribbon on its newly established Commercial Space Marketplace for Innovation and Collaboration (COSMIC) in Chantilly, Virginia on Tuesday, June 6.

COSMIC is a partnership between SSC and Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation (VT-ARC) to facilitate SSC collaboration with commercial industry, drive synergies with government agency partners, and deliver capabilities to the warfighter with greater speed and cost efficiency.

Attended by representatives from government, military, commercial and academic organizations, the ribbon-cutting ceremony placed emphasis on emerging threats in space and the key role that commercial partnerships will play as SSC pivots away from bespoke development to off-the-shelf acquisition of technologies, services, and products.

“Everything here today is about partnerships,” said U.S. Space Force Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein, SSC, commander. “Whether you are in government, a civilian, an ally, or a commercial partner, we’re all on the adversaries’ threat list. We’re all operating in the exact same environment, subject to the exact same physics, trying to vie for the exact same spectrum allocation. We are all fighting the same fight.” 

Citing a thriving commercial space industry and exponential advances in adjacent fields like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cyber security, Guetlein said there are many areas in which commercial partnerships can fill warfighter capability gaps to quickly and cost effectively counter emerging threats and maintain U.S. freedom to operate in space.

In opening remarks, USSF Maj. Gen. Steve Whitney, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration, military deputy, said that strengthening the relationship between the Space Force and commercial industry is a key component of Hon. Frank Calvelli’s nine steps toward a more resilient space environment.

“As we transition from building big, highly capable, but vulnerable, satellites to smaller proliferated resilient systems, institutions like COSMIC are more important than ever,” Whitney said.

COSMIC was created in cooperation with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Air Force Office of Scientific Research. U.S. Air Force Col. Janelle T. H. Jackson, AFRL Office of Scientific Research, acting director, addressed the ribbon-cutting audience with a call for urgency of action.  

“We are at a pivotal moment in time where the United States is faced with growing strategic military competition,” Jackson said. “Our competitors and adversaries are rapidly moving to challenge and surpass the U.S. science and technology advantage and gain superiority in the air and space domains. Taking an integrative approach by partnering with industry and academia are one of many ways we can lead the challenge. “

In addition to 10,000 square feet of dedicated meeting space and commercial outreach services, the COSMIC collaboration includes data analytics and operational analysis, access to market research, and technology transfer and transition advisement provided by VT-ARC, a non-profit corporation affiliated with Virginia Tech.

Noting that innovation is a team sport, John Forte, VT-ARC’s CEO and president said that COSMIC will “enable partnerships of like-minded organizations across government, industry, and academia that can work together to accelerate technology.”

COSMIC is the latest initiative coming out of SSC’s newly rebranded and expanded Commercial Space Office (COMSO), which is focused on facilitating commercial technology and service transfer at the speed of need to enable “fight tonight” capabilities.

“The physical space and supporting services provided through COSMIC provide a place and means for us all to get together and best collaborate on commercial space capabilities, warfighter requirements, and how to best deliver those capabilities,” said USSF Col. Rich Kniseley, Senior Materiel Leader in charge of COMSO.

Already invested in commercial SATCOM and SDA services, COMSO is currently working through COSMIC and SSC’s Front Door for rapid scale-up of commercial tactical surveillance, reconnaissance, and tracking services as well as other off-the-shelf capabilities that can be leveraged to scale with speed and cost efficiency.

“The National Capital Region is a sweet spot for connecting with government agencies in the intelligence community as well as with key space agencies such as NASA and the Space Development Agency,” said Kniseley. “It’s also a major hub for commercial space industry companies.”

COSMIC is made possible through a partnership intermediary agreement between the Basic Research Innovation and Collaboration Partnership and the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Air Force Office of Scientific Research. VT-ARC is the 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves as the intermediary responsible for COSMIC.