Slingshot Aerospace Lands $25 Million Space Force Contract

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Samson is also a proud member of the Transgender Journalists Association. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter at @Samsonamore. Pronouns: he/him

Slingshot Aerospace Lands $25 Million Space Force Contract
Image courtesy of Slingshot Aerospace
Fresh off securing a $25 million funding round earlier this month, Slingshot Aerospace has inked a new $25.2 million contract with the U.S. Space Force that will see America’s newest military branch use two of the El Segundo-based startup’s flagship products—a space simulator called Digital Space Twin and a virtual training platform known as Slingshot Laboratory.

The 39-month Space Force contract marks the first time that Slingshot’s Digital Space Twin product will be used by a government customer, according to the company. The technology melds “space weather data” and the live mapping of orbital objects with physics-based simulations to project how missions might play out in space. Slingshot is pitching it as a safer, cost-saving way for the government to simulate various missions before going ahead with their launch.

One example of how the Space Force could use the Digital Space Twin is in scenario planning, also known by the more dramatic moniker of “wargaming.” The process entails using simulations to visualize potential security threats and predict enemy behavior that could occur in orbit, as well as the military response to it.

Another Digital Space Twin capability lets the Space Force map out virtual scenarios whereby a satellite is approached by an unknown object and run tests on how it would respond. Slingshot said the product can also be used to model the deployment of new satellite constellations, which would help the government more safely launch satellites that can cost up to $1 billion to build.

Slingshot co-founder and CEO Melanie Stricklan told dot.LA that the Digital Space Twin product can also be used by private companies, albeit a slightly different version than the specialized systems it’s developing for the government.

“Space moves really fast, and there’s a lot going on up there,” she said. “But if you could take a moment in time and do some ‘what if’ analysis, then you could actually get into a predictive state that would inform decisions even before launch—whether that’s for training tactics and procedures, or developing a new capability. And that’s what the Space Force locked onto.”

In addition to the Digital Space Twin, the Space Force will also use the Slingshot Laboratory to develop space simulation training programs for various Space Force education organizations.

The Space Force’s Space Systems Command division contributed funding for the Slingshot contract alongside SPACEWERX, the Los Angeles-based venture investing arm of the Space Force that was created in collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFWERX).
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