Photo: NASA/Reid Wiseman

As space gets more crowded with satellites and space junk, one company wants to make it easier and cheaper to know where things are in orbit during daylight hours.

Driving the news: Numerica received a $750,000 contract from the U.S. Air Force during the first Space Pitch Day last week, with the chance to apply for up to $3 million.

Why it matters: Experts say better means of keeping track of satellites and space junk will be essential as more satellites are launched.

  • Ground-based telescopes are able to track satellites at night without interference from sunlight, but without other means of tracking, that leaves a gap during the day, when many satellites are maneuvering, Numerica vice president Jeff Aristoff told Axios.

Details: Some tracking systems use radar and other expensive technology to track satellites during daytime hours, but Numerica has developed a relatively cheap, autonomous system that Aristoff says can be deployed worldwide.

  • Numerica has tested its system, but it's hoping to raise funding in order to deploy it on a larger scale.

What's happening: The Air Force's Space Pitch Day is part of the organization's bid to modernize and relax the way it interacts with private companies.

  • “What you see here is your Air Force trying to do things differently; experimenting with how we can work closer with the commercial space market particularly the small businesses,” Lt. Gen. John Thompson, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center commander, said according to Space News.

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

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