TRACLabs of Houston Awarded Air Force Contract

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Software originally developed for NASA to be applied to military needs

The U.S. Air Force has awarded TRACLabs Inc. a contract to develop software that will allow its satellites to operate autonomously (independent of human interaction) for some critical activities.

Known as HAMMER (Highly Autonomous Mission Manager for Event Response), the software will allow satellites to prioritize and perform assigned tasks while responding to safety threats without the need for ground control. In a typical scenario, a satellite assigned to take photographs over a large area damaged by recent floods would prioritize all requests to take photos based on its flight path. Should a piece of space junk appear in its path, for example, HAMMER would allow the satellite to alter its path quickly and autonomously, then reprioritize its assigned tasks.

“The primary technology behind HAMMER was originally developed for NASA for its unmanned vehicles,” says David Kortenkamp, president and CEO of TRACLabs. “This is the next generation of satellites – ones that don’t have to be constantly managed from the ground, can respond more quickly to threats, and that allow ground personnel to focus on larger issues.”

The contract, worth $750,000 over 24 months, was awarded by the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) office and managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque New Mexico. SIFT LLC ( of Minneapolis Minnesota will be a subcontractor to TRACLabs on this project.

TRACLabs, headquartered in Houston, Texas, near NASA Johnson Space Center, is a research and development company at the forefront of robotics and automation technology. TRACLabs develops custom software and technology for NASA, the Department of Defense and the private sector, and sells proprietary products, including robotic arms and pan-tilt mechanisms. Its researchers are internationally recognized for their contributions to robotics and artificial intelligence. Learn more about TRACLabs at


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