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GATR delivers portable antenna
Just days after Hurricane Katrina slammed the South, an odd-looking inflatable antenna hastily set up at a shelter near Biloxi began providing the only high-bandwidth internet connection available to storm-battered residents.
The inflatable satellite antenna was a prototype under development by GATR Technologies through an Air Force SBIR. The original intention behind the GATR (“Ground Antenna Transmit and Receive”) antenna was to provide a communications lifeline to special operations forces—but Katrina offered a great proving ground, a little bit ahead of schedule. Named a Popular Science Invention of the Year and one of Inc. Magazine’s “Hottest Small-Business Products,” GATR systems are now in use by all of the U.S. military services, including U.S. Special Operations Forces, and is also being used by government and civilian disaster relief organizations.
The GATR technology is just one example of the value realized through the U.S. Air Force’s SBIR and STTR (Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer) programs. Respectively, the programs fund R&D by small businesses, and cooperative R&D projects between small businesses and nonprofit U.S. research institutions, including universities.
The Air Force SBIR / STTR program focuses on proposals with the potential to develop into products or services for military or commercial consumers. From 2000-2013, the Air Force invested nearly $4 billion in these R&D projects. GATR received funding during this period to develop its revolutionary satellite antenna.