Circle Optics Secures Funding Space Domain Awareness Customer Discovery  

Jun 6, 2024 | Company News | 0 comments


Rochester, New York – June 6, 2024Circle Optics, innovators in camera systems with patented technology enabling real-time, high-resolution panoramic video without the distortion and errors inherent in other systems, has been selected by SpaceWERX for a Phase I STTR in the amount of $110,000. In partnership with NextCorps, the award supports customer discovery for space domain awareness. 

The United States faces a growing threat as adversaries, particularly China, develop capabilities to disrupt vital space-based services, including tracking and targeting U.S. military space assets, according to the 2024 Space Threat Fact Sheet by HQ Space Force Intelligence. To counter this, the U.S. needs a tactically responsive space (TacRS) capability to achieve rapid awareness and deterrence against evolving threats. Unfortunately, current Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) sensor technologies lack the range, resolution, and field of view necessary for effective space domain awareness, creating a critical security gap. 

The adoption of Circle Optics’ optical technology by the U.S. Space Force will significantly enhance the United States’ tactical responsiveness in space, ensuring superiority in the detection, warning, characterization, and response to threats against national, allied, and commercial space systems. This capability is crucial for maintaining a strategic advantage in space, securing American assets, and ensuring the continued freedom of maneuver in an increasingly contested domain. 

Circle Optics envisions a dual-use strategy for their revolutionary panoramic camera technology, maximizing its potential and ensuring sustained growth. While addressing the Space Force’s critical needs for enhanced space domain awareness (SDA) remains their primary focus, they recognize the immense commercial opportunities this technology presents.  

Chief Research Officer Andy Kurtz says, “Circle Optics’ imaging technology can enable enhanced space domain awareness for missions like TacRS and space debris remediation by capturing fast, high-resolution HDR image content within a wide field of view, enabling an object of interest to be analyzed to initially assess its threat level. Through this project, Circle Optics will further connect with the Space Force, TacRS experts, and others in this field to clarify Circle Optics’ fit to the mission needs and the specifications thereof.” 

We Will Leverage our Defense Experience by:
  1. Directly translating the expertise gained from developing the camera for the Space Force to address similar challenges faced in commercial sectors like autonomous vehicles and drone safety. 
  1. Garnering market credibility by attracting commercial partners and investors seeking reliable and cutting-edge technology. 
  1. Leveraging the success of this DoD project to secure further government grants and contracts for related commercial applications, such as advanced space-based sensors and space asset resilience. 

“This award is yet another example of Circle Optics’ momentum in applying its novel technology to new markets and in meeting key milestones as they scale their business,” said Jim Senall, President of NextCorps. “We’re proud of the progress they’ve made since becoming a Luminate NY award winner and a part of our entrepreneurial facility and ecosystem 

“The views expressed are those of Circle Optics and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.” 

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About Circle Optics: 

Circle Optics, Inc., camera-system experts are known for designing the world’s only 360-video systems capable of delivering real-time, panoramic imaging without the need for stitching or gimbals. This innovative design utilizes unique polygonal lenses—unlike traditional circular lenses—to eliminate distortion and artifacts, enabling unprecedented real-time applications for panoramic imaging systems. With 16 patents and pending, the team has optics/mechanical engineering expertise from IMAX, Kodak, L3Harris, and others.  For more information, visit  

About NextCorps:  
NextCorps is a non-profit helping innovative technology companies launch and grow. It supports tech startups and existing manufacturers in building their businesses through a variety of internationally and nationally recognized programs. In addition to its sector-specific startup accelerator programs in optics/photonics/imaging, climate tech, and B2B SaaS, NextCorps also operates a state-of-the-art tech incubator in Rochester, NY, in the heart of the Downtown Innovation Zone, as well as manufacturing specific programs to help grow existing small- and mid-sized businesses. NextCorps is an affiliate of the University of Rochester. For more information, visit 

About AFRL: 
The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 12,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit 

About AFWERX: 
As the innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory, AFWERX brings cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. AFWERX employs approximately 325 military, civilian and contractor personnel at six hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4 billion budget. Since 2019, AFWERX has executed 4,697 new contracts worth more than $2.6 billion to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit:     

About SpaceWERX: 
As the innovation arm of the U.S. Space Force and a unique division within AFWERX, SpaceWERX inspires and empowers collaboration with innovators to accelerate capabilities and shape our future in space. Headquartered in Los Angeles, SpaceWERX employs 28 military, civilian and contractor personnel executing an annual $457 million budget. Since it was aligned under AFRL in Aug. 2021, SpaceWERX has executed 906 contracts worth more than $690 million to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit: 

Media Contact  

Jennifer Sertl  

Director of Marketing, Circle Optics  

(585) 704-5202   

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