RS21 earns patent for AI-based monitoring

By Debra Werner,
Published by SpaceNews, 10 March 2023

SAN FRANCISCO – Someday, satellites may operate autonomously, dodging debris and resolving their own software issues. For now, engineers continuously monitor satellites to detect and diagnose problems.

“Satellites are not ready to make decisions about what to do because they don’t know what’s going on with themselves,” Kameron Baumgartner, RS21 chief technology officer, said in a recent interview.

RS21’s artificial intelligence-based software called Space Prognostic AI Custodian Ecosystem, or SPAICE, is aimed at improving satellite monitoring.

Patent Approved

RS21 was awarded a patent for training AI and machine learning algorithms based on satellite telemetry and historical data. The patent includes description of an online portal for interacting with satellite operators “to prompt and facilitate investigations.”

“We have seen an overwhelming amount of interest in satellite AI technology, and it’s a really good time to be working to solve problems in this industry,” Charles Rath, RS21 president and CEO, said by email. “Our SPAICE patent gives us a competitive advantage by differentiating our product and attracting new investment as we scale.”

Before participating in the 2020 Hyperspace Challenge, RS21 was focused on healthcare, homeland security and other markets. The Air Force Research Laboratory, which manages the Hyperspace Challenge, invited RS21 to participate.

Through the Hyperspace Challenge, RS21 software engineers noticed similarities between predicting satellite problems based on historical data and telemetry, and predicting human health problems based on genomes and medical histories.

“We were able to build a pipeline for each satellite to have its own model based on either in-flight data or engineering and safety training data prelaunch,” Baumgartner said.

Space Force Interest

RS21’s ability to apply an analytics tool for biology “to predictive analytics for internal satellite component failure” immediately got the attention of the Space Force, Gabe Mounce, SpaceWERX deputy director and director of the AFRL Outreach & Tech Engagement Office in New Mexico, said in a recent interview. “The national security space enterprise is trying to understand how to monitor spacecraft better. Anything that predicts if there are going to be issues, so operators can prepare to contend with them, is super attractive.”

In 2021 and 2022, RS21 won a U.S. Space Force Small Business Innovation Research contracts to develop, test and deploy SPAICE in the ground software for the Defense Department’s Space Test Program-7 mission scheduled to launch later this year.  

Because RS21 maintains the rights to its SPAICE intellectual property, “we have something unique to bring to the market,” Rath said. “It’s a huge propellant for RS21’s growth, and expansion of our space technology could raise revenue ten-fold in the next three years.”

See: Original Article