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Slingshot Aerospace clinched a $1.2 million contract with the U.S. Space Force to create a visualization tool intended to identify enemy missiles and improve data collection in space.

Working with Culver City-based Zoic Labs, the four-year-old company will build an infrared surveillance system that it hopes will eventually be used by Air Force operators to track and handle missile warnings and battlespace awareness reports.

Zoic Labs is the sister company of Zoic Studios, which created the visual effects for "Avengers: Age of Ultron." It will draw upon that inspiration to convert satellite sensor data to video.

Melanie Stricklan, co-founder and CEO of Slingshot Aerospace, said the missile warning mission is key to maintaining top defense and intelligence domains in the United States.

"Our innovative solution will help improve the operator experience and optimize mission efficiencies, while positioning Slingshot Aerospace to be a potential leader in next generation OPIR situational awareness," Stricklan said in a release announcing the deal.

Last week, the U.S. Space Force announced it would establish a tech and acquisition arm at Los Angeles Air Force Base's Space and Missile Systems Center in El Segundo. The move was widely hailed by Southern California's aerospace community as further evidence that the region had become an important hub.

Thanks to a sizzling startup scene and a receding pandemic, Los Angeles investors are feeling more optimistic this spring than they did at the end of last year.

They are expecting robust hiring, increasing valuations and a quick recovery of the U.S. economy, according to the dot.LA VC Sentiment Survey, a quarterly poll of the top VCs in Los Angeles.

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The SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company, is the most recent IPO craze to hit Wall Street. Many reputable companies are going public via this route — over 200 were formed in 2020 alone. SPACs have existed since the early 2000s, but they have recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. And with many more slated to take companies public in 2021, the surge shows no signs of slowing down.

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