Firefly Aerospace will host the Klepsydra Artificial Intelligence application on its Elytra vehicle, planned to launch aboard a Firefly Alpha rocket (pictured) later this year. By serving as an edge computing platform in space, Elytra is equipped to support a variety of hosted software applications with real-time data processing on orbit.

“Edge computing in space is the key to overcome critical bandwidth challenges that come with downlinking massive volumes of data from spacecraft to ground stations on Earth,” said Jana Spruce, Vice President of Spacecraft. “Rather than relaying all this data to the ground, Elytra’s edge compute platform enables onboard data processing to support real-time decision making and a wide range of autonomous applications, such as space domain awareness, anomaly detection, and vision navigation.”

Designed and built in-house at Firefly, Elytra’s edge compute platform interfaces directly with the vehicle’s core avionics with the ability to receive payload, sensor, and camera telemetry data. The platform runs software applications as a service, enabling rapid data processing on orbit before downlinking the post-processed data of interest to customers.

As part of Elytra Mission 1, Klepsydra Technologies will use Elytra’s edge compute platform to further test and validate its AI navigation application. Klepsydra’s AI models will process sensor data onboard and relay the processed data back to Earth, providing real-time attitude determination, guidance, navigation, and control.

Klepsydra will also deploy a second algorithm for cloud detection that will demonstrate the ability to dynamically switch AI applications onboard, paving the way for Klepsydra’s AI-as-a-service solution.

Elytra will serve as an edge computing platform for hosted software customers for up to one year on orbit during Elytra Mission 1. Following separation from Firefly’s Alpha rocket, Elytra will first deploy commercial payloads and support a responsive space demonstration for the NRO, which includes performing an on-orbit manoeuvre and deploying additional U.S. government payloads on-demand.
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