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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Small Satellites Get a Big Boost

The Virginia SmallSat Data Consortium, a collaborative research center led by Old Dominion University and Virginia Tech, was awarded $1.5 million in grant funding Tuesday from the Virginia Research Investment Fund in its second funding round.

The two-year grant will support the launch of the consortium, which also includes the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and NASA Langley Research Center. The project has secured $1.8 million in additional funding as a condition of the grant award. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) administered the competition, and the Virginia Research Investment Committee (VRIC) members selected the final award.

"This translational research center grant is an early win for ODU's Virginia Institute for Spaceflight and Autonomy (VISA)," said Morris Foster, vice president for research at Old Dominion. "Part of VMASC (Virginia Modeling Analysis & Simulation Center), VISA was funded in the most recent session of the General Assembly to help catalyze the unique commercial Spaceflight and Autonomy opportunities in Virginia, particularly those at the Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore. This award recognizes ODU's leadership in aerospace in Virginia and its close partnerships with Virginia Tech, Virginia Space, and NASA Langley."

The Round 2 competition invited proposals for capacity-building projects at research centers in the strategic opportunity areas of small satellites, autonomous systems, big data, cybersecurity and life sciences. Each project was evaluated by a team of peer reviewers, entrepreneurs and investors to assess its potential to yield commercial products in the long term. Because the Round 2 funding remains open, an additional award announcement is possible at VRIC's October meeting.

"Virginia's institutions of higher education are at the forefront of groundbreaking advances in areas like aerospace and the biosciences, and serve as hubs for innovative ideas and the commercialization of new technologies," Gov. Ralph Northam said. "This project, and the consortium's public-private partnerships, will help bolster the Commonwealth's position as a leader in satellite and data collection and support our continued work to drive Virginia's economy forward."

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