WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force has found a new manager for its expanded prototyping organization — the Space Enterprise Consortium — which will oversee $12 billion in awards for space-related projects over the next 10 years.

The Space and Missile Systems Center’s Space Development Corps selected National Security Technology Accelerator, known as NSTXL, to manage its SpEC Reloaded portfolio to adopt ever-evolving innovations before they’re outdated. SMC expects to issue the award on Dec. 31, following a required 30-day congressional notification period.

Launched in 2017, SpEC has doled out prototyping awards for everything from new ground systems to a Link 16-enabled space vehicle that shows the location of friendly and enemy forces. SpEC has reduced contract award timelines by 36 percent, grown membership by 55 percent year over year to 441 members, and awarded 80 prototype efforts cumulatively valued at $856 million, according to SMC.

“There’s no question that SpEC has been an overwhelming success for the government programs that have utilized it to accelerate their prototyping, and for the consortium members to gain a better understanding on the USSF’s architectural direction,” said Col. Tim Sejba, program executive officer for SMC’s Space Development Corps.

Perhaps most importantly, SpEC provides an opening for nontraditional companies to begin working with the Department of Defense on space systems. SpEC helps connect vendors with organizations including the Space Rapid Capabilities Office or even the intelligence community’s National Reconnaissance Office using other transaction authorities.

OTAs allow “us to get on contract much faster than traditional approaches,” SMC head Lt. Gen. John Thompson said in November. “In addition, the vehicle really lowers the bar for nontraditional contractors to become part of national security space efforts, makes it easier for them to get in the door. In fact, 350 of those 430 members of the consortium are really nontraditional contractors or academic organizations.”

The Space Force awarded the initial $100 million SpEC management contract to the Advanced Technology Institute in 2017 to manage the consortium through November 2022. However, the consortium’s early success convinced the Space Force to revamp the effort with a significantly larger budget and an increased focus on cybersecurity.

“We are honored to contribute to U.S. space advancement,” NSTXL CEO Tim Greeff said. “This has been a very successful program thus far, and we look forward to taking it to next level to unlock more value for the U.S. military by engaging more nontraditional defense companies and bringing great innovation to the nascent Space Force.”

NSTXL also supports the U.S. Army’s Training and Readiness Accelerator (TReX), the Navy’s Strategic & Spectrum Missions Advanced Resilient Trusted Systems (S2MARTS), and the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) Energy OTA.

Nathan Strout was the staff editor at C4ISRNET, where he covered the intelligence community.

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