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An Air Force veteran who commanded hundreds of experimental missions and operated spacecraft will take the helm of Slingshot Aerospace.
The El Segundo-based company announced that co-founder Melanie Stricklan will take over as its new chief executive officer, effective Thursday, as the company shifts its focus to its space products, Slingshot Orbital and Slingshot Orbital Laboratory.
Her first task as chief executive will be to lay out the company's shorter term plans and to guide the transition of engineering resources to the space portfolio. This year, Slingshot will focus on Slingshot Orbital, its space domain awareness and data tool, and Slingshot Orbital Laboratory, a space simulation training tool built for the U.S. Space Force that utilizes the same information.
"There are many, many avenues for both of those to take, as more and more players come into the ecosystem," said Stricklan.
As companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin take to space, Slingshot Orbital tracks and predicts the movements of not only their rockets, but everything beyond our atmosphere.
Slingshot's other products, Slingshot Earth and Slingshot Edge will no longer be central priorities for the company, the company said, as their data input and analysis is focused primarily on Earth.
Stricklan is a rarity in the male-dominated aerospace field.
"I'm super excited to see more and more females coming into leadership positions within the aerospace ecosystem," she said, adding there are even fewer women in the space industry. "If folks like myself and Mandy Vaughn over at Virgin Orbit can continue to influence both the industry and the people coming to work for companies, we'll see more and more females in the space leadership realm."
Stricklan served in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years, where she helped develop next generation capabilities for space domain awareness and space control. She commanded over 200 experimental missions and operated spacecraft.
Stricklan co-founded Slingshot in 2017 with U.S. Air Force colleague Thomas Ashman and entrepreneur David Godwin. She and Ashman were keenly interested in the data gathered by satellites, airplanes and drones, and wanted to develop technology that would analyze and use it, reinterpreting it to make it easier to understand.
They brought on David Godwin, an entrepreneur, technologist and big data architect, as CEO. After participating in Techstars L.A.'s accelerator program and announcing the close of a $8 million Series A round last year, Slingshot has raised $17.1 million to date with Godwin's help. He will now serve as chairman of the board, primarily focusing on fundraising, investor relations, strategic partnerships and legal issues.
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