Space Force funds 3 projects from second annual ‘Fight Tonight’ innovation competition

The proposals were pitched by Space Systems Command employees.
Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein, SSC commander, shares why innovation and collaboration between acquisition and operations professionals is critical in today’s great power competition, before naming 2023 Space Systems Command Fight Tonight winner during the Space Force Ball, Nov. 17 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (U.S. Space Force Photo by Van Ha)

The Space Force announced Tuesday that it will allocate money in 2024 towards three ideas for new capabilities that were proposed by employees of the service’s acquisition arm — including an interface that enables data-sharing between the Space Force and international allies.

The proposals were submitted to Space Systems Command’s (SSC) second annual “Fight Tonight” competition, which calls for the organization’s military and civilian personnel to come up with innovative solutions to some of its most pressing challenges and capability gaps. The goal is to propose tangible ideas that could be fielded within a one-year time frame.

“Under great power competition, it really becomes prudent upon us to make sure that we can credibly not only protect, defend and deter aggression, but if called upon, defeat it at a time and location of our choosing,” SSC Commander Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein said in a statement. “In order to do that, we can no longer rely on our old processes and ways of doing business, which could take months, if not years, to field a credible capability into operations.”

From the 28 ideas submitted this year, the command chose a project called the Allied Exchange Environment (AXE) for its overall winner.


The capability will create a standardized interface that enables two-way, real-time sharing of data between the United States and its international allies — something that does not currently exist, Lt. Col. Dan Kimmich, SSC’s materiel leader for cross-mission data, said in a statement.

“The systems in place today enable email exchange or chat capabilities, but we don’t have systems to enable machine-to-machine connections to flow data in real time,” Kimmich said. “If a radar in Japan collects data on a space object, how does it share that with [the] United States? It doesn’t, unless an operator in Japan types a message, and that’s prone to error and not timely.”

The data will be from the Space Force’s cloud-based repository known as the Unified Data Library (UDL). The library was designed to gather and disseminate space domain awareness information from government, commercial and international sensors under a single source, and the service is working through plans to improve how the UDL manages space data.

The team that proposed AXE will receive $2.8 million in fiscal 2024 to move forward with its development, installation and software sustainment in support of Australia and Japan, SSC said. Currently, the system is being tested using data collected by the Australian Space Surveillance Telescope, according to a press release.

Space Systems Command chose two projects as runners-up in the competition and also plans to fund those in the next year.


One of those proposals is to use the existing Aalyria Spacetime software platform for orchestrating various types of networks, to improve communications for warfighters.

Made by technology company Aalyria, Spacetime uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to create a digital twin of the Earth and space in order to analyze all of the possible data paths on a network and optimize them based on weather conditions, user requirements and cybersecurity interference — serving as a type of “network broker,” SSC said.

The team proposed to fund a test campaign that would prove the platform could be integrated into a space data transport force design created by the Space Warfighting Analysis Center to provide integrated communications networks, a press release stated. 

The Data Exploitation and Enhanced Processing-Radio Frequency (DEEP-RF) project was also chosen to receive funding. Building upon another data exploitation architecture from a separate project known as DEEP-PNT, the technology intends to fill a gap for constant and expanded radio frequency spectrum monitoring, according to SSC.

“DEEP-RF exploits existing commercial radiometric telemetry data and enables SSC to rapidly surge the number of contributing sensors without building or launching a single new spacecraft,” a press release stated. “This technology rapidly scales, leverages unclassified commercial data, and isn’t limited to space-based sensors — it is being developed in such a way that we can provide actionable and shareable [electromagnetic spectrum operations] products that can be fused with other sources for a more complete threat picture.”


Procurement, fielding and integration of DEEP-RF will be led by Space Systems Command’s Pivot space domain awareness team in collaboration with Joint Task Force-Space Defense Commercial Operations (JCO) Global and the Aerospace Corp., SSC noted.

As work begins to get the top ideas from this year’s competition moving forward, the winning proposal from the first Fight Tonight competition is currently under software development and on track to be operational accepted by fiscal 2025, the Space Force announced Friday.

That project — called Fast Track Reduction Using Machine Learning — proposed using ML with algorithms trained on operational data logs to reduce the number of “false alarm” missile events tracked by Space Force personnel. A team led by Anita McCorvey, director of SSC’s space sensing product support delta, received $3 million in funding after proposing the idea during last year’s Fight Tonight contest.

Mikayla Easley

Written by Mikayla Easley

Mikayla Easley reports on the Pentagon’s acquisition and use of emerging technologies. Prior to joining DefenseScoop, she covered national security and the defense industry for National Defense Magazine. She received a BA in Russian language and literature from the University of Michigan and a MA in journalism from the University of Missouri. You can follow her on Twitter @MikaylaEasley

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