2023 University Consortium Research Opportunity (UCRO 2.0)

The United States Space Force (USSF) and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) established the University Consortium Research Opportunity to engage students and postdoctoral fellows in space-based research and development to increase the number and diversity of future space professionals. This is a new approach to tap into university research and innovation to solve critical USSF technical problems. It allows for building the capacity for space research and innovation at institutes of higher education, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and other designated Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). The USSF and the University Consortium Research Opportunity will fund university teams committed to developing new and innovative solutions to research problems and/or maturing their existing product or service.

Important Dates

Notice of Intent Announcement: 22 March 2023
Informational Webinar: 29 March 2023 at 1:00 PM US/Central Watch Now
NOI Questions Deadline:  5 April 2023
NOI Answers Posted: 12 April 2023 View
Request for Proposal Release Date: 17 April 2023 (Amended 21 April 2023) View Download
Request for Proposal Questions Deadline: 1 May 2023 
Request for Proposal Answers Posted: 8 May 2023 View
Proposals Due: 9 June 2023 before 11:59 PM US local time
Subagreements awarded: August 2023 (tentative)

Notice of Intent to Publish a University Consortium Research Opportunity Request for Proposal

Issued By:

United States Space Force (USSF)
Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)
Universities Space Research Association (USRA)


The United States Space Force (USSF) announces funding to support the second cycle of the University Consortium Research Opportunity (UCRO). The UCRO opportunity is a direct partnership with the Air Force Research laboratory (AFRL) and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA). The research opportunity will address top space science and technology (S&T) challenges through a network of partnered universities. The goal is to fund the facilitation of joint applied research that focuses on transformational space domain technology breakthroughs and developments that will lead to the advancement of capabilities that can be transitioned and integrated into USSF and other U.S. Government space systems.

The topic area is: Beyond Geostationary Earth Orbit (xGEO) Operations and Space Domain Awareness (SDA). The xGEO Operations and SDA topic will focus on technologies needed to ensure continued and enhanced capability across all space areas (including moons and planets) for U.S. military and civil operations. Specific technology areas of interest are sensing technologies, astrodynamics, and training/outreach/education. While many of these technologies are applicable to other orbital regimes or even other domains, priority will be given to proposals specifically addressing challenges related to space object tracking in xGEO. Each team is encouraged to include future technology vectors and horizon scanning on emerging and forward leaning technologies through a systematic assessment of potential future threats and technology surprises.

Research Initiative Details:

Each offeror should include a minimum of three partnered universities. In addition, it is strongly encouraged that the research be conducted in collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), or other DoD or U.S. Government agencies and laboratories, as well as industry partners to address space research, development, and demonstration needs. It is highly desired for the research to lead to testbeds, high fidelity modeling and simulations, demonstrations, and prototypes. The research is expected to transition technology to higher technology readiness levels throughout the period of performance and extensions may be awarded based on an evaluation of this ability.

Funding Information:

  • Estimated Total Funding: $6M
  • Anticipated Number of Awards: one or more
  • Period of Performance: 60 Months
  • Base Award: 24 Months; with 1-3 optional additional years

Eligibility Requirements:

  • U.S. accredited public and private institutions of higher education (including community colleges)
  • All research participants must be U.S. citizens.
  • Work must be performed in the United States.

Informational Webinar;

Watch Now: USRA Informational Webinar for UCRO on xGEO Operations and SDA 


Answers to questions pertaining to the NOI were posted on 12 April 2023. View

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