E-Bird Newsletter

October 27, 2022 E-news: Space exploration disability inclusion cohort set to take flight + Weekly Business News Digest

Space exploration disability inclusion cohort set to take flight

In recognition of the National Disability Employment Awareness Month, FCEDA proudly features some exciting news about AstroAccess, a non-profit organization that seeks to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in space careers. Eric Ingram, founder and CEO of the Fairfax County-based space company SCOUT is on the AstroAccess leadership team. Ingram recently spoke with FCEDA and aspiring Fairfax County entrepreneurs about starting his space company in Northern Virginia, a global hub for space and satellite companies.

On the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 17 lunar liftoff, the last time humans were on the Moon, AstroAccess will have its second cohort of ambassadors fly on a parabolic flight with Zero Gravity Corporation. The flight is scheduled to launch from Houston, Texas on December 14, 2022. According to AstroAccess, the flight will continue the important accessibility research that was conducted on an inaugural AstroAccess flight in October 2021, as well as work on two additional parabolic flights conducted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Aurelia Institute, which flew AstroAccess ambassadors in May of this year.

SCOUT’s Ingram will be among the four returning flyers on the next AstroAccess flight. Ingram is currently leading the experiment development and guidance for the Mobility Impairment Ambassador group.

“This second flight allows us to expand on the incredible experiments we flew on AA1 (the first flight). We’re working diligently to make sure that when the time comes, spaceflight is accessible to all,” said Ingram. “AstroAccess is doing fundamental research into how to make completely novel environments work for everyone, and we’re excited to have not just space be accessible but use these results here on earth too.”

Twelve new flyers will also join the crew of the second flight. The flyers, in addition to the work done by the AstroAccess ground crew and the mentorship of the AA1 Ambassadors, have launched AstroAccess into the next phase of its mission to make space more accessible, according to AstroAccess.

“This is a vital next step for advancing not only access to space, but the quality of space science itself, by ensuring that 15 percent of the world’s population is not excluded, stated AstroAccess co-founder and Executive Director Anna Voelker. “We are honored to be working with a phenomenal and passionate team of nearly 100 individuals who are driving this mission forward, and welcome anyone who is interested in contributing to join our growing team.”

In support of the mission, the ground and flight crew are collaborating to design experiments that will help AstroAccess demonstrate ways to make spaceflight more accessible in the future.

“The work that we’re doing at AstroAccess is laying the foundation for the future of human spaceflight. To democratize space, we’re expanding the notion of ‘the right stuff’ and doing the necessary research for inclusion to enable a wide range of people to fly,” said Flight Ops research lead Corey McClelland.

AstroAccess is dedicated to advancing disability inclusion in space exploration for the benefit of humankind. The first mission successfully flew 12 individuals with disabilities on October 17, 2021, with the ultimate goal of flying one or more team members to space in the coming years. The project is supported through the Whitesides Foundation and is part of SciAccess, an international non-profit dedicated to advancing disability inclusion in STEM. The fiscal sponsor of the project is the Spacekind Foundation, a non-profit space advocacy organization.

Click here for more details about AstroAccess.


Securis, KPMG recognized by The Arc of Northern Virginia for commitment to employment of people with disabilities

In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, The Arc of Northern Virginia pays tribute each year to the accomplishments of the men and women with disabilities whose work helps keep the nation’s economy strong and by reaffirming their commitment to ensuring equal opportunity for all citizens. As part of their tribute, the Arc of Northern Virginia announced that Chantilly-based Securis, and KPMG, which has its Northern Virginia location in Tysons, have been named recipients of the Commitment to Employment of Persons with Disabilities Awards, in recognition of those employers who go above-and-beyond in their efforts to provide meaningful work opportunities for people with disabilities.

The Commitment to Employment of Persons with Disabilities Awards will be presented at The Arc of Northern Virginia’s Inspire & Empower: A 60th Anniversary Gala Celebration Saturday, November 5 at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner. Click here for more information about the gala event.


Weekly Business News Digest

Hospitality recovery: Tysons-based Hilton Worldwide Holdings posted greater revenue per available room for the third quarter than even the same period before the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the latest sign of the hospitality industry’s recovery amid uncertainty tied to world events and economic conditions, according to the Washington Business Journal. Chris Nassetta, CEO of Hilton told analysts during an earnings call Wednesday that the industry continues to benefit from factors such as pent-up demand, especially from leisure travelers, and loosening restrictions tied to the Covid-19 outbreak. That momentum, building on last quarter’s growth, shows no sign of waning heading into the new year, he indicated. “Despite near-term macro headwinds, we’re not seeing any signs that fundamentals are weakening,” Nassetta said during the earnings call. “Rising demand, coupled with historically low industry supply growth, should continue to drive strong pricing power. Consumers are shifting back to spending on experiences, international borders are reopening, and pent-up demand is being released across all segments.”

Back to office construction? The Meridian Group, developer of The Boro, an ongoing mixed-use development in Tysons, wants the option to replace an approved residential building with office — despite considerable uncertainty about the future of office demand and considerable certainty about a continued high demand for housing, according to the Washington Business Journal. The Boro comprises several blocks east of Route 7 in the vicinity of Westpark Drive, adjacent to the expanding Silver Line’s Greensboro station. Its first phase of construction delivered 1.7 million square feet, including a flagship Whole Foods Market, an office tower and multiple multifamily buildings. At full buildout, the master-planned development will include some 5 million square feet of office, residential, retail, entertainment and public uses.

And they’re off! Reston business intelligence company Tellius is aiming to more than double its revenue and increase its number of employees by around 50 percent or 60 percent in the next 12 months, according to CEO and founder Ajay Khanna, reported the Washington Business Journal. The company announced that it obtained $16 million in funding last week. Previous investors Sands Capital Ventures and Grotech Ventures of Arlington, and Reston’s Veraz Investments participated in the Series B round led by Chicago’s Baird Capital. The latest raise nearly equals its total funding since Khanna founded the firm in 2016 to provide AI-driven intelligence to clients in the financial services, pharmaceutical and life sciences, retail, healthcare, and technology industries.

Broadening its presence: Herndon-based FalconTek acquired Ashburn-based Core Mission Solutions to broaden its presence across the defense, intelligence community, and federal law enforcement communities, according to Washington Technology. CMS was founded in 2010 as a provider of language analysis, cultural advisory, intelligence analysis, and training. FalconTek is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business that carries out technical and professional services for its federal clients.

Polar Express: A Centreville-based Parsons-led team will provide engineering support, information technology functionality, and flight operations assistance for three Polar Operational Environmental Satellites of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, ExecutiveBiz reported. Under a $16 million NOAA contract, the team comprising of Reston- and Beltsville, Md.-based ASRC Federal unit Arctic Slope Technical Services, Norway-based Kongsberg Satellite Services, which has an office in Denver, and Parsons will support the operations. “In partnership with NOAA, this team will leverage our extensive portfolios of satellite operations and information technology capabilities to demonstrate successful commercialization of the polar operations mission,” said Jason Long, vice president for civil solutions at Parsons.

Another acquisition: SilverEdge, based in Columbia, Md., acquired Counter Threat Solutions, a Reston firm that provides technology solutions to U.S. intelligence agencies. The deal comes two weeks after SilverEdge bought QVine, an agile software and cloud services firm headquartered in Herndon, the Washington Business Journal reported. SilverEdge is a portfolio company of Godspeed Capital Management, a D.C. private equity firm that invests in tech-focused, lower middle-market defense and government services firms.

Space cybersecurity: Tysons-based IronNet was named the newest Gold member of the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC). Space ISAC members lead the global space community to identify and respond to threats and mitigate risks to the space mission. “Space is the next frontier with many unknowns and potential threats, including cybersecurity risks. That’s why the Space ISAC is focused on building a strong foundation of cybersecurity from a knowledge pool with deep security expertise,” said Erin Miller, executive director, Space ISAC. Intelligence Community News has more.

New leadership: Reston-based StarKist announced that Chae-Ung Um has been named the new co-President and CEO, StarKist Co. His first day will be November 1, 2022, and he will be President and CEO, StarKist, on January 1, 2023. Andrew Choe will continue to serve as President and CEO until the end of the year to work with Um to ensure a successful transition. Choe has been President and CEO since November 2014, according to citybiz.

Walk this way: A bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the Beltway opened in Tysons, according to Tysons Reporter. It provides a link between the residential communities east of the Beltway to Tysons Corner Center. The new bicycle and pedestrian bridge “greatly improves bicyclist and pedestrian accessibility, connectivity, and safety in the Tysons area,” according to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) news release.


Contract Wins

ICF (Fairfax) won an award with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration under a multiple-award contract to help reduce the impact of substance use and mental illness on America’s communities. The 5-year contract has a ceiling value of $1.2 billion across all awardees. WashingtonExec

Leidos (Reston) obtained a five-year, $55 million contract from the Transportation Security Administration to conduct waste facilitation services at over 430 federal airports across the U.S. and its territories. ExecutiveGov

Northrop Grumman (Falls Church area) received a $31.6 million contract to dismantle and inspect a test article of the U.S. Navy’s updated airborne early warning and control aircraft. ExecutiveBiz

BlackSky Technology (Herndon) won a one-year $10 million contract to provide on-demand, real-time high-resolution imagery services to an international ministry of defense customer in Asia. GeoSpatial World

Northrop Grumman (Falls Church area) obtained a $7.8 million contract from The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to work on a scalable laser weapon system under the Modular Efficient Laser Technology program. ExecutiveBiz


FCEDA Hosted and Sponsored Events

October 27 — Digital Transformation Community Fall Networking Mixer. Northern Virginia Technology Council presents a networking mixer. Come celebrate digital transformation and meet industry peers from our vibrant tech community. Light appetizers and drinks will be served. This event is open to both NVTC members and non-members. Click here to register.

Nov. 15 to 16 — TiE DC Capital GovCon and ELITE Awards Gala. TiE DC Capital GovCon 2022 will bring together over 300 small business owners and professionals in the D.C. Metro region for two days of content-rich programming and networking. The event will feature government & industry leaders leading significant digital transformation efforts across their respective agencies. Click here to register. Awards Info: The TiE DC Capital ELITE Awards recognize Excellence in Leadership, Innovation, Technology & Entrepreneurship. This year, at their flagship Capital GovCon event, TiE DC will honor government and industry executives that epitomize the virtues of this award. An independent jury will evaluate and rank each nomination, so TiE DC can duly recognize the achievements of executives in the government and government contracting community that have made a significant impact to the industry in the last 12-18 months. Note that the jury will remain undisclosed throughout the deliberations process. Click here to access the nomination form.

Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 — Global convening of the inaugural Quantum World Congress. This global event will bring the future into focus while establishing the Greater Washington region as a go-to destination and meeting place for quantum technology visionaries, policymakers, researchers, business and investment leaders, and students. With the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, and the Commonwealth of Virginia as major sponsors, the event is organized by Connected DMV. Click here to learn more, see the list of expert speakers, and reserve your spot.

December 6 — 2022 NVTC Tech 100 Celebration. The Northern Virginia Technology Council will host its annual event at Capital One Hall in Tysons to celebrate the top companies and leaders in the Greater Washington tech community.  Click here to register.


FCEDA is Here to Help Your Business Thrive

Fairfax County EDA is here to connect businesses of all kinds to resources and information. For direct assistance, email the FCEDA at info@fceda.org, or call 703-790-0600 to leave a voice message for our staff. And click here for resources available in the other nine jurisdictions that make up the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance.