Los Angeles-based spacecraft manufacturer Apex has announced that it will be carrying a payload for Booz Allen Hamilton as part of its Aries Call to Adventure Mission. The payload will be enabled on Apex’s Aries Serial Number 1 spacecraft. Through this mission, Booz Allen will be able to run diagnostics on software designed to support on-orbit space domain awareness (SDA) sensors. The company’s software will specifically focus on computer-vision tasks at the edge, with the goal of reducing the bandwidth required for SDA sensors and enabling the use of next-generation deep-space sensors.

Apex’s Aries Call to Adventure Mission is unique in that it allows for multiple customers to share space on a single spacecraft. The company has not disclosed any other customers participating in this particular mission. Apex is known for its rapid spacecraft manufacturing and has set a historical record for the design and build timeline of its satellites. The company’s first satellite was designed, built, and launched in just 12 months. Apex is currently in the process of manufacturing additional Aries spacecraft for missions scheduled in 2024.

Booz Allen is a prime customer for the Aries Call to Adventure Mission and will be the only other payload onboard the Aries Serial Number 1 spacecraft. The company is a leading provider of space data solutions for both the public and private sectors. Booz Allen’s software payload will be a key component of the company’s ongoing efforts to integrate emerging technologies into its space domain awareness mission applications. The payload will specifically focus on demonstrating Booz Allen’s ability to process space domain awareness data using artificial intelligence on the edge. The company’s initial tests will involve using a computer-vision solution to detect and characterize resident space objects.

As the space domain continues to evolve, there is an increasing need for SDA sensors that can operate autonomously at the edge. These sensors will be essential as the United States and other strategic competitors expand their presence beyond geostationary orbit (GEO) and into deep space. Through its collaboration with Apex, Booz Allen aims to demonstrate the potential for using edge compute hardware to support next-generation SDA capabilities. The company’s software is being developed to support a range of autonomous SDA applications, including safety-of-flight analyses and conjunction assessments.

In addition to its work with Booz Allen, Apex is also focused on the broader potential for on-orbit SDA sensors. The company sees a growing market for these capabilities as both government and commercial entities look to enhance their space situational awareness. By enabling customer payloads on its Aries spacecraft, Apex is positioning itself to support a range of SDA missions in the future.

The specific launch date for the Aries Call to Adventure Mission has not yet been announced. Apex is currently in the process of manufacturing the spacecraft and will work with its launch partners to determine the most appropriate launch window. The company’s Aries spacecraft are designed to be compatible with a range of launch vehicles, providing flexibility in terms of mission timelines and specific orbit requirements.

In addition to its work with Booz Allen, Apex has also secured a contract with the U.S. Space Force to deploy a space test asset as part of the Aries program. The company will work with the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Small Launch and Targets Division to execute the test mission. Through these efforts, Apex is aiming to demonstrate the operational utility of its Aries spacecraft for a range of national security and commercial customers.