A team of Nalu Scientific and Space Micro has been selected by the US Air Force (USAF) to support the service’s efforts to protect space-based assets and enhance situational awareness on the ground.

The joint research proposal will receive funding under the Small Business Innovation Research programme that is aimed at selecting startups to address national security challenges.

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The space system proposed by Nalu Scientific and its partners Space Micro and Rhea Space Activity is known as ILLUSTRO.

Nalu Scientific is contributing its single-photon detection technology for the research proposal.

ILLUSTRO integrates the technology into Space Micro space-qualified computing architectures.

The solution is designed to support commercial and military satellites to enable space situational awareness.

Nalu Scientific founder and CEO Isar Mostafanezhad said: “We were excited to see the US Air Force engaging the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) approach to tap the fast-paced innovation of the start-up world for national security.

“We’re very grateful to our partners at Space Micro and Rhea Space Activity, which has the experience and expertise we need to quickly adapt our technology for satellite applications.”

The company stated that the ILLUSTRO module would measure less than 10cm³ and weighs under 500g.

The module consumes less than 0.5W and its small size allows it to be integrated into SmallSat architectures, as well as terrestrial and aerial vehicles.

Rhea Space Activity founder Shawn Usman said: “We have been providing high-level advisory services to a variety of technology startups for the past year, and it has been inspiring to us to see how Nalu Scientific has transitioned its particle physics-based technology into the space sector.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this significant leap forward toward a much more thorough awareness of what is happening, in real-time, closest to our nation’s most valuable orbital assets.”