Hoeven: Packet Digital Partners with Air Force Research Lab to Improve Space Craft Power Systems

Senator Secured $7 Million for Research Contract in FY2021 Defense Appropriations Bill

FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today announced a nearly $8 million contract between Packet Digital and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to develop advanced power systems to enhance future U.S. space missions, providing improved efficiency, reliability, power delivery and component lifespan.

The contract utilizes $7 million in funding that Hoeven secured in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 as a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, as well as nearly $1 million in expected funding to be provided in the coming fiscal years. The senator also worked to advance the partnership between AFRL and Packet Digital by helping coordinate communication and securing the Air Force’s approval of the contract. Click here for more information.

“North Dakota continues to grow as a leader in technology development, and this contract between Packet Digital and the Air Force Research Lab, which we worked to fund in annual appropriations legislation, is another great example of this trend,” said Senator Hoeven. “Packet Digital was an early success story in our state’s tech sector, and it makes sense to partner their expertise in power systems with the Air Force to improve the efficiency and operational capacity of space craft.”

“Packet Digital's team has decades of experience developing high-efficiency power management systems, and we're excited to take on the challenging work of developing cutting edge power management systems for space operations”, said Terri Zimmerman, CEO of Packet Digital. “We're exceptionally grateful for all the guidance and hard work that Senator Hoeven and his office have put into securing this contract for Packet Digital, and we believe this will be an incredible opportunity to showcase North Dakota's technology sector.”

The contract announced today aligns with Hoeven’s ongoing efforts to ensure a role for North Dakota as the nation expands its space operations. This includes his work to establish a new satellite mission in Grand Forks. Hoeven recently hosted Space Development Agency (SDA) Director Dr. Derek Tournear in North Dakota to review these efforts.

Further, this award is part of the senator’s broader efforts to provide competitive research opportunities for North Dakota universities and businesses. To this end, Hoeven secured funding for the following priorities for FY2021, in addition to the space power systems research:

  • $20 million for advanced coatings research, including Air Force research like that being undertaken by Elinor Specialty Coatings in Fargo.
  • $17 million for the Department of Defense Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCOR) program, in which the University of North Dakota (UND) and North Dakota State University (NDSU) participate.
  • $10 million for Navy research into UAS payloads and performance.
  • $5 million for augmented reality systems for Army vehicles, which UND is currently helping develop.
  • $2.5 million to support a new silicone solar cell research project at NDSU.