CA’s LONG BEACH – The Southern California startup Arkisys is seeking American businesses who have received financing for Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer to test payloads or subsystems in low Earth orbit on the Port.
For $150,000, Arkisys will fly goods to the Port through a programme called Embark that is slated to debut in 2024.
Arkisys CEO and co-founder David Barnhart told SpaceNews that at that price range, “as you might guess, we will not be generating any money.”
Instead, Arkisys is using an approach known as “infrastructure as a service,” which is common in the tech industry. Companies like Amazon Web Services attract customers with a low starting pricing. The tech industry gains when industries grow and more services are required.
Customers of Embark will also have access to extra services and opportunities for teamwork in space.
The chief business officer of Arkisys, Dan Lopez, emphasised that in order to scale, this infrastructure must be used. “There is no market if there is no scale. There is no client without a market.
Executives at Arkisys want to help entrepreneurs who frequently fail to launch their technology into space.
People have bemoaned the death valley of space technology for years. Small SBIR or STTR phase 1 awards from American government organisations are reasonably simple for businesses to get in order to demonstrate the technical value or viability of a concept. Getting SBIR phase 2 funding to continue the research and development is more challenging, but not impossible. SBIR phase 3, where the technology is transferred into a government programme or toward a commercial good or service, is only reached by a very small number of enterprises.
What’s interesting is that many firms construct hardware in [SBIR or STTR] phase two but never get the chance to witness its maturity or continue the innovation because they never get the chance to fly, according to Barnhart. We would dearly desire to hasten such invention.
Although there are numerous commercial space platforms and stations in development, none have been put into operation yet.
The Defense Innovation Unit of the Pentagon awarded cash to three firms in 2020 to explore tiny, unmanned space stations in low Earth orbit. One of those companies is Arkisys. Additionally honoured were NanoRacks and Sierra Space.
According to Barnhart, “the existing [SBIR and STTR] approach sort of leaves on the floor a big untapped collection of new ideas.” “Going after that makes the most sense.”
The Embark programme will eventually be made available to businesses outside of the US, according to Arkisys.
The Embark programme was first introduced by Arkisys in 2021. Based on input from potential clients, the company has since improved the concept.
On the Arkisys website, companies can join up for the Embark programme.
The onboarding procedure will then be initiated, Barnhart said. “We want to be certain that we are aware of what and when you intend to fly.”