Turion Space Secures $1.9 Million Contract from SpaceWERX for Autonomous Spacecraft System

Illustration by Turion Space

, an Irvine-based , has clinched a $1.9 million contract from , the technology arm of the , to develop an autonomous spacecraft docking and maneuvering system aimed at advancing space technology.

The contract focuses on enhancing capabilities to engage uncooperative space objects and facilitate the deorbiting of inactive satellites, Turion’s co-founder and CEO, Ryan Westerdahl, said in an interview.

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“We are focusing on in-space mobility and non-Earth imaging,” Westerdahl added, highlighting Turion’s recent launch of its first , Droid.001, in June 2023. The 32-kilogram spacecraft is designed for space situational awareness and its data is being integrated into the Space Force’s Unified Data Library.

Turion plans to demonstrate its advancements as early as 2026, featuring a Droid mothership hosting “micro-Droid” satellites equipped with a capturing device developed under the SpaceWERX contract. These micro-Droids, partly funded by , will use grapplers to capture debris objects.

According to Westerdahl, solving the problem requires a better understanding of spatial objects to allow operational satellites to maneuver and avoid collisions. “By removing large non-maneuverable objects, we aim to contribute to cleaner orbits,” Westerdahl explained.

While Turion’s long-term goal is to provide debris removal services, the company currently focuses on hosting space domain awareness payloads to generate steady revenue. Turion plans to offer three payload hosting options: Droid Mini, Droid Alpha, and Droid Alpha Enhanced Mobility with ion thrusters.

Turion’s next satellite launch is scheduled for February, showcasing the larger Droid Alpha bus. Westerdahl anticipates ramping up production to 45 satellites annually by 2027. The enhanced mobility ion thrusters will be developed in collaboration with Desert Works Propulsion, specializing in electric propulsion for space applications.

To date, Turion Space has raised nearly $20 million in venture capital, Westerdahl confirmed.

A former propulsion engineer, Westerdahl co-founded Turion Space in 2020 with Tyler James Pierce and Patryk Wiatr.

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