Air Force seeking top space awareness innovators with ‘VQ-Prize’ competition

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The U.S. Air Force and the Wright Brothers Institute are offering cash prizes for the creation of visualization tools, including Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality solutions, that will enhance DOD space operator understanding and awareness of satellites and other objects in Earth orbit in a competition that is set to run from October 29 through January 15, 2019.   


The Air Force Visionary Q-Prize Competition (VQ-Prize) was developed to encourage non-traditional industry partners who have limited means to engage with military customers, such as universities, individuals, and small businesses, to find solutions for safe and secure operations in space. No background in space applications is required.


“The need for timely and accurate object tracking is paramount to the defense of space, and this competition will help augment existing capabilities with visualization tools that enable operators to intuitively absorb and quickly navigate massive amounts of space object data,” said Brig. Gen. William Liquori, Air Force Space Command Strategic Requirements, Architectures and Analysis director.


The Air Force is seeking solutions that will utilize existing data, displaying and processing it in a manner that more thoroughly captures the space picture, while also facilitating quick comprehension of changes in the moment-by-moment status quo.


“It is not only imperative that space operators receive up-to-date information on this rapidly evolving and highly dynamic environment, they must also be able to quickly process and interpret the information necessary for decisive action on compressed timelines when only seconds may remain to prevent or mitigate catastrophic events,” said Col. Michael Kleppe, Air Force Space Command Space Capabilities Division director.


Select problems have been scoped and packaged for rapid concept generation and tangible product development. Contestants may submit traditional user interface solutions, displayed or projected on a flat screen, or AR/VR interfaces.


Solutions are desired that present new ways of visualizing and understanding the following types of events:


- Satellite maneuvers

- High-speed conjunctions in Low Earth Orbit (LEO)

- Proximity operations and relative orbital activity in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO)

- New object discovery

- Satellite/debris breakups

- Constellation insertions (multiple satellites on a single launch)

- Lost or “stale” objects


All submissions will be evaluated by military space operators, space development professionals, and human factors experts. Some considerations are:


- Clear presentation of information

- Ability to search for and display specific objects or constellations

- Support of user recognition rather than recall

- Ability to monitor all critical information simultaneously

- Lack of clutter and extraneous information

- Lack of overstimulation of the user


Up to $100,000 in prize money will be distributed as part of this competition, with multiple prizes awarded for each category and a single VQ-Prize to be awarded to the top overall submission. Specific competition guidelines, prizes, dates, grading criteria, data sets, and submission details will be made available through and be administered by WBI.  The competition’s official kickoff date starts on Oct. 29, 2018.  The challenge will be posted on the WBI Tec^Edge Challenge Pavillion:


To watch the VQ-Prize video, please go to: