Aeronautics and space startup, Slingshot Aerospace, has secured a $1.2 billion contract with the US Space Force to develop a graphic tool that can visualize missiles miles away and send warning signals. The company has partnered with Zoic Studios subsidiary, Zoic Labs, to design and create the software that will be used by satellite operators of the overhead persistent infrared (OPIR) sensor satellites.
According to Slingshot’s co-founder and CEO, Melanie Stricklan, the software will assist satellite operators in viewing and interacting with intricate data collected by the OPIR sensor satellites. “A lot of information is coming off sensors on orbit, and operators don’t have an easy way to look at those tracks and get it into a collaborative environment. This tool is to do analysis and help them understand how to shorten the timeline,” said Stricklan.
Zoic Studios, the Zoic Labs parent company, is a highly sought-after company in Hollywood for visual effects services in the arts sector. OPIR satellites are operated by the Space Force and detect missile activity and send warnings to the US soldiers and allies to be prepared sufficiently.
The billion-dollar contract involves the two firms working together to create and test algorithms and processing methodologies with controlled data from previous missile launch incidents. Slingshot is betting on getting a follow-up contract to actualize the tool’s action on space-based “infrared surveillance, tracking and missile warning satellites, Stricklan mentioned.
Zoic Lab’s role in this contract is creating videos from the collected data that can be replayed later. The videos will fine-tune analysis since sensor operators can replay them as many times as they wish to understand the data. The Space Force has sponsored this project through Tap Lab, an initiative between the space department and the Missile Systems Center. The lab’s interest is in new techniques to examine and distribute remote sensing information. “We submitted a proposal for how to visualize missile warning tracks in a new way so that operators can understand the tracks,” said Stricklan.
Slingshot was founded in 2017 with facilities in California and Texas. The firm is coming on strong on the Future Operationally Resilient Ground Evolution (FORGE) program, competing with companies such as Raytheon. The program seeks to ramp up Space Forces preparedness in cases of missile threats through accurate data processing. The upcoming missile warning satellites will be referred to as Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared.
“I foresee this as something that could be leveraged as a FORGE application. We are looking at those requirements,” noted Stricklan. Slingshot applies complex analytics, machine learning, computer vision, and collaborative software to data from earth and space, thus providing an in-depth understanding and analysis for intelligence agencies and commercial clients.