MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Three United States Space Force research contracts have been awarded to Kall Morris Inc. (KMI), a Marquette-based company focused on developing ways to remove debris from Earth’s orbit. The company began operation in 2019 upon being founded by three alumni of NMU, Adam Kall and brothers Troy and Austin Morris.

The research contracts were awarded through the Air Force Research Laboratory, each worth $250,000. The contracts are part of a series of Space Force SpaceWERX Small Business Technology Transfer Phase I projects in a program called Orbital Prime that focuses on a market called In-space Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing.

Since getting off the ground in 2019, Co-Founder and Director of Operations Troy Morris said much of the company’s operation has been centered around preparing and applying for contracts like these. A pre-seed investment round in collaboration with Michigan Rise last year has allowed the team to gradually expand.

“November of last year an actual solicitation was released saying ‘Okay, companies of the United States, tell us what you’d do to solve orbital debris’ and we chased after that, working with our academic partners, our industry partners, and putting together a mountain of proposals,” Morris said. “KMI submitted six of these, we were selected on half of them for this initial round. And we were awarded then the quarter of a million dollars in each research grant to do this preliminary research.”

The three contracted projects will be conducted in partnership individually between KMI and teams at University of Southern California Space Engineering Research Center, the Stanford University Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Lab, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, respectively.

KMI’s work with USC will center around the university’s Space Engineering Research Center on advancing a technology called REACHH, which functions as an adhering arm for ‘uncooperative objects’ in space. You can check out more about REACHH here.

The contract with Stanford will focus on developing ways to adhere objects to items like rocket bodies that are already in orbit.

“It might be something that for one reason or another, it can’t be removed or shouldn’t be removed, but we want more accurate tracking. The problem is it’s very hard to stick stuff in outer space,” Morris said. “Glue doesn’t work. You don’t have someone up there to hold your hand and help make sure it sticks on. So we’re working with Stanford to develop that technology to adhere tow hooks or trackers onto these objects in order to make their future de-orbiting easier.”

Lastly, collaboration with MIT will focus on developing stations where debris can be collected when it is removed from orbit. With thousands of items of debris in Earth’s orbit, Morris says developing a way for the removed objects to be safely collected is an important step.

KMI plans to conduct the projects in Marquette, with plans to continue growing their staff and overall investment in the area. Plans for a permanent office location in Marquette are still ongoing, with a final address not yet determined.

“It’s something that we’re very much looking forward to, that prototype development lab being physically located here,” Morris said. “As we continue to grow, we’ll need additional staff. We’re going to need artists and marketers, as well as engineers and data scientists. So it’s something we are already in conversations with NMU, Michigan Tech, and a few downstate schools. There is an availability and an interest, we just need additional talent. So it’s something we’ve been very lucky at this stage. But we’re excited to continue to grow our Marquette-based team.”

You can read about full details of KMI’s projects on their website.