SCOUT Space Inc. has been selected as a subcontractor by Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), the R&D arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in support of the SINTRA (Space Debris Identification and Tracking) program.
Through a competitive Broad Agency Announcement, IARPA’s SINTRA program was awarded to four teams, including one led by SRI International, an independent, nonprofit, research institute behind countless cutting-edge technological advances, as a prime contractor, with support from SCOUT and Leidos.
The SINTRA program aims to revolutionize our nation’s ability to detect, track, and characterize miniature orbital space debris, smaller than 10 cm, which are currently untrackable from the ground. Resulting technologies hold the potential to protect crewed spacecraft and other valuable space assets from these compact threats, which are difficult to detect and track and can cause significant damage. The SINTRA program is anticipated to be a four-year effort.
In July of this year, SCOUT announced the company had successfully completed an oversubscribed Seed round led by Decisive Point, with majority investment by Noblis Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Noblis.
SCOUT will support the SRI team by assessing the space debris environment and how to best achieve widespread space debris monitoring with hosted payloads, incorporating off-the-shelf and in-development sensors focused on detecting both direct and indirect phenomena. The team will conduct trade studies for deploying space-based sensors hosted on future space missions, and will conclude the SINTRA program by testing and delivering an integrated payload to IARPA.
“Space debris detection and tracking is a very hard problem, and characterization is sometimes an entirely different problem which compounds that. There isn’t one catch-all solution available today, so we are leveraging various sensing modalities and core competencies to synthesize a means to proliferate one. SCOUT’s expertise in on-orbit sensing and characterization uniquely positions us to integrate our partners’ RF (radio-frequency) sensing modalities with our own optical systems and enables us to support a framework of distributed on-orbit sensing to better understand space debris. We have assembled a team which shares an amazing spread of in-depth knowledge of this field, and I am proud of that. We are looking forward to working with SRI and Leidos to realize the concept of a ubiquitous space-based debris sensor.” — Sergio Gallucci, Co-founder and CTO, SCOUT, also leading the team’s space-based sensors mission area
“SRI is deeply invested in limiting the dramatic consequences that can occur from space debris collision, including damage to expensive equipment or loss of vital communications. Currently, there are more than 100 million objects larger than 1mm orbiting the Earth; however, less than 1 percent of mission-ending debris are currently tracked. With the objective to integrate sensor data into a robust tracking system, SRI and SCOUT will develop spaceborne sensors to more accurately characterize debris objects.” — Lin van Nieuwstadt, Sr. Research Engineer, SRI International
About SCOUT Space:
SCOUT Space was founded in 2019 with the mission to enable a new era of space safety and transparency. SCOUT’s in-space products and services, first launched in June 2021, allow spacecraft to see and understand things around them. The orbital distributed sensor network developed by SCOUT will significantly improve Space Domain Awareness (SDA) and ensure responsible use of the space environment. The company is a Techstars, MassChallenge, and venture-backed startup with ongoing government and commercial contracts. SCOUT holds the Established® 2021 Startup of the Year® title. For more information, visit www.scout.space.