Stephenson Stellar, new Baton Rouge nonprofit, lands $23M contact for cyberdefense in space

Stephenson Stellar Corp., a new, nonprofit corporation based in Baton Rouge and founded by LSU alumnus and philanthropist Emmet Stephenson and his wife, Toni, in 2020 has landed a nearly $23 million contract with the Air Force to help protect the nation’s satellite systems from the growing threat of cyberattack.

The Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, New York, announced the $22.7 million award late last month to Stephenson Stellar, which will be run by Jeff Moulton who also heads the LSU Stephenson National Center for Security Research and Training.

The LSU center, which also was founded by the Stephensons, is not involved in Stephenson Stellar or the space defense work.

Though Moulton says he is not at liberty to discuss much about the contract, a release from the Air Force says its purpose is to provide the Air Force with tools and techniques to facilitate defensive cyber operations for space through the research and development of a land and space-based cyber experimentation platform called the Stellar Space Cyber Range.

While the LSU Stephenson National Center for Security Research and Training and its related company, Stephenson Technologies Corp., are increasingly focused on protecting the nation’s infrastructure from cyberattack, Emmet Stephenson says his new venture is focused on working with the federal government to protect the nation’s infrastructure in space.

“I think we’re really identifying a major problem and it needs to be solved and it needs to be solved now,” says Stephenson, who funded the startup with $2 million. “This is a unique opportunity … and it is both exciting and terrifying.”

Work on the Stellar Space Cyber Range will be performed in Baton Rouge and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and is expected to be completed by late May, 2024.