Catalyst Space Accelerator Alumni Achieving Great Heights

CSA’s Two Initial Cohorts Continue to Scoop Up SBIRs and Contracts

Colorado Springs, Colorado, May 29, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

At Catalyst Space Accelerator, our alumni companies are central to our ever-growing network of outstanding commercial partners, and we are always excited when they build upon the successes achieved during their time at the Space Accelerator. Right now, several alumni companies have some great news to report:

Echo Ridge LLC of Sterling, Virginia, which participated in our Positioning, Navigation and Timing Cohort in 2018 (, focuses on wireless applications such as communications systems, position/navigation/timing, electronic warfare and modeling/simulation/test. President Joe Kennedy is proud to announce that Echo Ridge was selected for not just one, but two different Small Business Innovation Research grants (SBIR):

Echo Ridge was selected for a Phase II SBIR (AF182-002 F2-10745) for their work in Innovative Positioning, Navigation & Timing (IPNT). Phase I of this SBIR was the basis for Echo Ridge’s participation in the PNT Cohort of the Catalyst Space Accelerator and created a detailed plan for a trial implementation of their proposed solution. The Phase II SBIR seeks to expand the addressable (DoD and Commercial) market segments by providing test and demonstration opportunities for prospective customers.

Echo Ridge has also been awarded a Phase I SBIR from AFWERX ( in association with their IPNT work. They qualified to compete for this SBIR based on their participation in the Catalyst Campus accelerator. With this SBIR, Echo Ridge will conduct a feasibility study towards providing a comprehensive tactical-edge electromagnetic environment (EME) situational awareness (SA) capability that includes PNT and blue comms “weather”, red/gray activity, blue/red/gray proximity, alt nav, etc., in a military-suitable form factor for size, weight & power (SWaP)-constrained platforms. 

Gareth Block is CEO of Third Insight of Austin, Texas, which also participated in the PNT Cohort late last year. Third Insight builds software that enables "Thinking Drones.” Third Insight’s HALO platform provides vision-based navigation for UAVs and drones and for its Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance analytics tools, enabling drones to perform a variety of autonomous tasks indoors and outdoors without requiring GPS for positioning.

Dr. Block reports that since completing the Catalyst Space Accelerator in December 2018, five short months ago, the company, impressively, has won two SBIRs and a government contract:

  • Third Insight won a US Air Force (USAF) Phase II SBIR focused on building and deploying their autonomous navigation platform for UAVs for the purpose of automated aircraft inspection 
  • They won a USAF Phase I SBIR with AFWERX ( focused on customer discovery for use cases related to their computer vision analytics and machine learning product line   
  • They won their third contract with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to test and expand their core autonomous navigation platform for First Responders 

SaraniaSat of Los Angeles, California was one of several stand-outs among the Catalyst Space Accelerator’s inaugural cohort, the Terrestrial Weather Cohort, in early 2018. Their participation in the Space Accelerator was followed shortly with becoming subcontractor to a $5.1 million NASA InVEST contract. SaraniaSat was originally founded by former NASA scientist Dr. Tom George to address a Grand Challenge facing the agricultural industry, to break through the “logjam” blocking widespread acceptance of satellite remote-sensing data and information products by the industry. Since participating in the Catalyst Space Accelerator, SaraniaSat has greatly expanded interest in their remote-sensing technologies among both government and commercial entities.

Since we last heard from him, Dr. George is pleased to announce that SaraniaSat has won another SBIR award in this latest round. It was in response to the Airforce SBIR topic AF191-006 "6U CubeSat EO/IR Solutions for Operational Weather Demo" ( Their proposal was entitled "CLOUD 6" for satellite-based cloud characterization.  

Guidestar Optical Systems of Longmont, Colorado also joined Catalyst Space Accelerator for the Terrestrial Weather Cohort. Chief Engineer Dr. Aaron Buckner is now happy to report that barely a week ago, Guidestar was selected to participate in the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade Advanced Industries Accelerator Grant Program with an award of $249,961. According to Dr. Buckner, “Our participation in the Catalyst Accelerator was a major contributor to Guidestar’s ability to secure this award.” 

Guidestar’s adaptive optics technology addresses the ground-to-space optical communications needs of companies, enabling them to transmit large amounts of data more quickly, reducing latency of data availability to ground-based operations, and circumventing challenges in obtaining RF spectrum permits required for data transmission relying on slower radio transmission of data. Guidestar’s technology also addresses the backhaul network connectivity challenge in terrestrial 5G networks. 

Catalyst Space Accelerator’s Program Director KiMar Gartman feels “It’s immensely satisfying to see the companies grow from where they were in the Accelerator to now as they are scaling their businesses and helping to solve some of our most difficult technical challenges.”


About Catalyst Space Accelerator

The AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate Catalyst Accelerator is a New Space defense and national security industry accelerator. Headquartered on the Catalyst Campus, a collaborative ecosystem in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Catalyst Space Accelerator is a public-private partnership hosted by the Center for Technology, Research, and Commercialization (C-TRAC), Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI), the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) TechSource, Space Capital Colorado, and the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory to provide a robust, mentor-driven curriculum for accelerator teams. 



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