image for news



SpaceWERX, The Aerospace Corporation collaborate to guide technologies through the 'Valley of Death'

  • Published
  • By Matthew Clouse
  • Air Force Research Laboratory

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AFRL) - SpaceWERX, the innovation arm of the U.S. Space Force and a unique division within AFWERX, has partnered with The Aerospace Corporation to establish a cutting-edge “Technology Readiness Level”, or TRL, bootcamp lab in El Segundo, California.  

This collaborative effort aims to guide promising technologies through the “Valley of Death,” the challenging transition phase that small businesses often face between receiving initial funding through Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer contract awards and achieving full product readiness or commercialization. In a significant stride toward fostering innovation within the space sector, the SpaceWERX initiative is equipping startup ventures with essential resources and assistance to validate their technological advancements. 

"In America, small businesses are often the source of ingenuity and innovation,” said Arthur Grijalva, SpaceWERX director. “At SpaceWERX, we actively invest in and nurture these ideas to foster their growth and development, with the goal of transitioning them into programs for both warfighters and the commercial market."

The TRL bootcamp spans from two to six months and gives SpaceWERX partners access to Aerospace's 100,000-square-foot laboratory and subject matter experts. Aerospace operates the only federally funded research and development center committed exclusively to the space enterprise. This collaboration will allow companies to test and mature their technologies in a state-of-the-art lab. 

"As a nonprofit working in the public interest, we believe in the principle that a rising tide lifts all boats,” explained Brian Bone, principal director for Commercial Space Futures at Aerospace. “This bootcamp strengthens the entire space industry, contributing to a robust space economy and enhancing national defense." 

SpaceWERX partnered with the Space Systems Command Assured Access to Space program office to decide which companies were selected for the first TRL cohort bootcamp. The focus areas selected were in-space servicing, assembly and manufacturing and dynamic space operations.  

“The bootcamp gives small businesses access to the decades of experience Aerospace has in the space domain,” said Maj. Jareth Lamb, SpaceWERX military deputy. “This is another tool SpaceWERX is adding to help companies be successful and transition technologies.” 

Lamb added that the TRL bootcamp is currently a pilot program, but SpaceWERX plans to expand the initiative across America in the future. To learn more, visit the SpaceWERX website

About AFRL  
The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 12,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit     

About SpaceWERX
As the innovation arm of the U.S. Space Force and a unique division within AFWERX, SpaceWERX inspires and empowers collaboration with innovators to accelerate capabilities and shape our future in space. Headquartered in Los Angeles, SpaceWERX employs 40 military, civilian and contractor personnel executing an annual $457 million budget. Additionally, SpaceWERX partners with Space Systems Command's Commercial Space Office (COMSO) as a collaborative program. Since it was aligned under AFRL in Aug. 2021, SpaceWERX has executed 906 contracts worth more than $690 million to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit  

AFRL Placeholder image