Thousands of satellites currently orbit the Earth. An ABQ firm built a system to monitor them. - Albuquerque Journal

Thousands of satellites currently orbit the Earth. An ABQ firm built a system to monitor them.

RS21 will test its AI monitoring system on the satellite shown here in a photo taken by the International Space Station before ISS cut it loose in January 2020. (NASA via RS21)

The Air Force Research Laboratory is betting $750,000 on a new system that Albuquerque-based data analytics firm RS21 built to prolong satellite operations through remote monitoring and intervention.

The system – dubbed the Space Prognostic AI Custodian Ecosystem, or SPAICE – applies artificial intelligence to detect problems before they arise, allowing ground operators to intervene in advance of failures to extend satellite functionality, said RS21 Chief Technology Officer Kameron Baumgardner.

SPAICE has already shown enough promise for AFRL to entirely skip its normal “Phase I” proof-of-concept seed funding and proceed to a “Direct to Phase II” small business innovation research grant. That allows RS21 to immediately build and install the new system for real-world testing on a satellite that was launched from the International Space Station earlier this year, Baumgardner said.

Once fully installed, SPAICE will provide a steady stream of data from the satellite and the space environment where it’s operating, including real-time information on everything from how components are functioning, heat levels inside the craft, and the satellite’s positioning to current weather in space, fuel-tank levels, and how charged the vehicle batteries are.

All that data will automatically combine with detailed information about the spacecraft itself, such as the manufacturing process used to build it, creating a “neural network” for instantaneous monitoring and assessment.

“SPAICE is based on deep-learning AI that mimics how the brain is structured,” Baumgardner told the Journal. “It looks at a set of inputs to understand how they correlate to identify patterns and predict things. In this case, we’re looking at the system health of the satellite.”

That can enable satellite operators to detect anomalies and take action to correct them before something goes wrong, Baumgardner said.

SPAICE provides automated, real-time monitoring, data-feed and analysis, but it allows operators to make final decisions on needed action to help them build trust in the information received.

“With AI, folks who have done everything themselves for years often have a hard time trusting algorithms to do things for them,” Baumgardner said. “SPAICE presents data in a way that adds context for decision making, but it doesn’t actually make decisions for operators.”

RS21 won first place last December in the annual “Hyperspace Challenge” managed by AFRL and the ABQid business accelerator, run CNM Ingenuity, which oversees all of Central New Mexico Community College’s commercial endeavors. That generated broad interest in the new AI system from government agencies and commercial satellite manufacturers and operators, said RS21 President and CEO Charles Rath.

“We believe our AI-powered platform will be transformational for industry to improve situational awareness of satellite operations and save money,” Rath told the Journal. “Our phone is ringing off the hook from government entities and satellite producers. … We believe the SPAICE system could become the standard for AI and machine learning for preventive maintenance across the industry.”

 


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Firefighters tackle warehouse fire in NW ABQ
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque Fire Rescue responded to a ... Albuquerque Fire Rescue responded to a blaze at a warehouse in the early hours of Friday morning in Northwest Albuquerque. AFR, in a release, ...
2
NM's record-high revenue projections keep climbing
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico's sky-high revenue projections for ... New Mexico's sky-high revenue projections for the next year shot up again Friday as state economists shared their latest findings at the Capitol. They ...
3
DA’s lawsuit seeks GPS data for defendants on pretrial ...
ABQnews Seeker
District Attorney Raúl Torrez on Thursday ... District Attorney Raúl Torrez on Thursday sued the administrator of the 2nd Judicial District Court in Albuquerque, alleging that court officials are violating the ...
4
Broad coalition urges support for PNM/Avangrid merger
ABQnews Seeker
After PRC meeting, AG Balderas concerned ... After PRC meeting, AG Balderas concerned about commissioners' impartiality
5
Sandia Prep junior sings her way to Carnegie Hall
ABQnews Seeker
Sofia Chalamidas hopes to attend college ... Sofia Chalamidas hopes to attend college at either New York University or Carnegie Mellon, and become a professional singer
6
State to require booster shots for some workers
ABQnews Seeker
More than 2,000 new COVID cases ... More than 2,000 new COVID cases reported Thursday
7
Hot air balloon 'menorah' to be lit Sunday
ABQnews Seeker
Event marks the last night of ... Event marks the last night of the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah
8
BioPark releases minnows into Rio Grande
ABQnews Seeker
Part of endangered species recovery efforts Part of endangered species recovery efforts
9
Governor adds stimulus spending to session agenda
ABQnews Seeker
Legal clash over the handling of ... Legal clash over the handling of the funds poised to intensify as Lujan Grisham accused of spend