Release Date
August 23rd, 2023
Open Date
September 20th, 2023
Due Date(s)
October 18th, 2023
Close Date
October 18th, 2023
Topic No.


Uncertainty Management for Space Domain Awareness of Non-Standard Threats


Department of DefenseN/A


Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2023


The Department of Defense (DoD) is seeking proposals for the topic "Uncertainty Management for Space Domain Awareness of Non-Standard Threats" as part of the SBIR 23.3 BAA. The objective of this topic is to develop algorithms and methodology to improve the propagation of uncertainty for objects in the beyond-GEO region, which have highly nonlinear dynamics, stochastic excitation, and uncertain initial conditions. This technology is crucial for accurately assessing the threat posed by objects in this area, which can potentially threaten terrestrial and space-based assets. The project will have a Direct to Phase 2 (D2P2) structure, where Phase 1 proposals will not be evaluated. In Phase II, the focus will be on developing algorithms to characterize uncertainty propagation, evaluating the impact of maneuvers and sensor exclusion, and identifying estimation techniques. The project will also explore dual-use applications and transition strategies based on operational USSF requirements. The topic is restricted under ITAR or EAR regulations, and offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals. Relevant keywords include beyond-GEO, xGEO, cislunar, space traffic management, space domain awareness, uncertainty propagation, orbit determination, and space sensor tasking. The solicitation is closed, and more information can be found on the DoD SBIR website.



The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this topic is to develop algorithms and methodology to allow for better uncertainty propagation of beyond-GEO trajectories, which are subjected to more highly nonlinear dynamics, stochastic excitation, and uncertain initial conditions than typical GEO-and-below trajectories.

DESCRIPTION: One of the significant technical challenges in space domain awareness is the accurate and consistent propagation of uncertainty for objects governed by highly nonlinear dynamics with stochastic excitation and uncertain initial conditions. This challenge is even greater in the beyond-GEO region where three-body gravity becomes significant, resulting in the dynamics being more nonlinear. Additionally, the increased distance between an Earth-based sensor and the object reduces the apparent motion between them, resulting in little independent information to initialize an orbit. The initial uncertainties in xGEO orbits are therefore highly non-Gaussian, which inhibits the effectiveness of traditional propagation and filtering methods. Orbits within this area of regard enable low-cost options for spacecraft to rapidly alter course and threaten terrestrial and space-based assets. Being able to accurately understand and propagate the uncertainty of objects within this area is necessary to assess whether they pose a threat.

PHASE I: This is a Direct to Phase 2 (D2P2) topic. Phase 1 proposals will not be evaluated and will be rejected. For this D2P2 topic, the Government expects that the small business would have accomplished the following in a Phase I-type effort via some other means (e.g. IRAD, or other funded work). It must have developed a concept for a workable prototype or design to address at a minimum the basic capabilities of the stated objective. Proposal must show, as appropriate to the proposed effort, a demonstrated technical feasibility to meet the capabilities of the stated objective. The documentation provided must substantiate that the proposer's technology is currently at an acceptable stage to be funded at the D2P2 level. Documentation may include reports demonstrating prior work demonstrating feasibility, results of prior efforts, success criteria of a prototype, or any other relevant documentation as applicable.

PHASE II: Develop algorithms and methodology to characterize uncertainty propagation, including contribution of higher-order moments, of xGEO trajectories. Identify uncertainty propagation behavior in presence of variety of mission profiles, including low-thrust, long-duration maneuvers, quasi-periodic trajectories, and Lyapunov and transfer orbits. Evaluate uncertainty propagation across sensor exclusion and occultation geometries and assess impact of maneuvers in this space. Identify sensor network placement and tasking strategies to maximize information gain of xGEO objects and satisfy object custody requirements. Identify and develop estimation techniques applicable to the identified uncertainty distributions. Evaluate the resultant uncertainty from initial orbit determination as well as catalog maintenance (filtering) algorithms.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Develop a strategy to transition prototype residual capabilities and incremental proliferation based on operational USSF requirements.


  1. T. Wolf, E.M. Zucchelli and B. A. Jones, "Multi-Fidelity Uncertainty Propagation for Objects in Cislunar Space," AIAA 2022-1774. AIAA SCITECH 2022 Forum. January 2022;
  2. C. Freuh, K. Howell, K.J. DeMars, S. Bhadauria, and M. Gupta, "Cislunar Space Traffic Management: Surveillance Through Earth-Moon Resonance Orbits," 8th European Conference on Space Debris, ESA Space Debris Office, Darmstadt, Germany, Apr. 2021;
  3. M.R. Thompson, N.P. Re, C. Meek, and B. Cheetham, "Cislunar Orbit Determination and Tracking via Simulated Space-Based Measurements," Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Conference, Maui, HI, Sept. 2021

KEYWORDS: beyond-GEO; xGEO; cislunar; space traffic management; space domain awareness; uncertainty propagation; orbit determination; space sensor tasking