Space Force launches “Orbital Prime” to develop OSAM systems

The US Space Force has launched “Orbital Prime”, a new program in their SpaceWERX technology incubator designed to spur private sector development of OSAM, or on-orbit service assembly and manufacturing, capabilities for use in the future. Following on from lessons taken from experienced Silicon Valley VCs earlier this year, the Space Force announced that private teams (small business encouraged) needed to partner up with a research institution or other nonprofit to form teams and compete for funding in rounds. “Orbital Prime” was launched due to an identified need for the capabilities in the future.

OSAM systems are great for reducing overall mission risk. Being able to reach a system in orbit as needed is sorely needed capability that is only in its infancy today. Shoring up bottlenecks in constellations to ensure their continued operation is vital. OSAM systems will also eventually be able to support large scale manufacturing and assembly in orbit to develop space vehicles as needed on demand. A possibility is that the large scale adoption of these systems would result in an overall decrease in attack surface: if a compromised system can be addressed by an OSAM system in orbit, then the best way to cripple operational capabilities is to go after the OSAM system instead. This means security efforts for space signal infrastructures and space vehicles can be more efficiently allocated towards the OSAM systems instead.