Slingshot launches interactive tool to make the complexities of space more accessible

CEO Melanie Stricklan: ‘The growing space industry needs top talent but many are not trained in fundamental spaceflight astrodynamics’
WASHINGTON — An interactive simulation of the space environment developed by Slingshot Aerospace for military satellite operators is now being offered commercially, the company announced Sept. 29.

The company last year won a Small Business Innovation Research contract from the U.S. Space Force and received additional private funding to develop Slingshot Laboratory. It delivered an initial version in July.

In response to a broader demand in the space industry and academia, the company is offering Slingshot Laboratory as a commercial product, the company’s co-founder and CEO Melanie Stricklan said in a statement.

“The growing space industry needs top talent but many are not trained in fundamental spaceflight astrodynamics, which creates a barrier to entry,” she said. “We’ve created a tool that enables companies to incorporate astrodynamics into their training curriculum.”

The web-based orbital laboratory also helps students who are interested in space more easily understand complex methodologies through visual and collaborative learning, said Stricklan.

Commercial companies are struggling to fill roles that require an astrodynamics background, she said. “With Slingshot Laboratory, companies can now incorporate the curriculum into their in-house training programs. Users can learn about satellites and their behavior within the platform, and quickly gain the knowledge and skillset to explore space fundamentals and easily build their own orbits based on accurate mathematical properties.”
Synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite operator Capella Space named Amy Hopkins, former Boeing Phantom Works Strategy Director, as its first vice president and general manager of U.S. Government Services.

“Amy has firsthand experience as both the tactical user and the policymaker,” Payam Banazadeh, Capella CEO and founder, said in a statement. “She brings deep knowledge of the customer’s challenges and how we can help them extract greater intelligence as well as operational, planning and policy value.”

Over the last two decades, Hopkins has worked for Northrop Grumman, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Pacific Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Hopkins began working with SAR early in her career when she was deployed to Camp Bondsteel, the main U.S. Army base under the NATO-led international peacekeeping force in Kosovo. As a Defense Intelligence Agency civilian intelligence officer supporting the 1st Armored Division, Hopkins saw “the need for all-weather, day and night SAR to support military operations.”

She didn’t become a SAR evangelist, though, until she worked in Hawaii for the U.S. Pacific Command.

“The challenge to the nation’s security posed by major global players put an absolute premium on all-weather, day and night coverage,” Hopkins said by email. “The demand for this decision-level data has only increased since my time deployed in military operations support, and I see no end to that demand in sight.”

San Francisco-based Capella collects SAR imagery and data with a constellation of five small satellites in low Earth orbit. The company has won contracts from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, Pentagon’s Space Development Agency, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Space Force.

Capella also named retired U.S. Air Force officer Stosh Kowalski to be the company’s government programs manager. Kowalski’s LinkedIn profile notes he “served on launch teams for over 40 rockets for the USAF and National Reconnaissance Office” in addition to helping to establish initial operating capability for a $470 million satellite processing facility.–streams-free-reddit-on-sundays-2138827665,50303669.html


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