(Image: Slingshot Aerospace)The US Space Force (USSF) has secured a $25 million contract with an aerospace startup to virtually prepare for future collisions.
Slingshot Aerospace has spent the last two years developing its Digital Space Twin, a product that “reflects the current state of space at any given moment” and allows users to simulate or prepare for actions accordingly. Its deal with the USSF comes from Space Systems Command and the US military’s Strategic Financing (STRATFI) program. Over the next 39 months, Slingshot will have the opportunity to use Digital Space Twin to help the military plan responses to “nefarious acts” from other governments.
Digital Space Twin works by combining real-time maps of orbiting objects with current space weather data, creating a platform through which users can visualize custom scenarios. This will enable the USSF to model collisions and decide on a best course of action before they occur. Space Force Guardians—yes, that’s the real name for those enlisted in the USSF, not the next Marvel movie—will use the product to plan missions and future satellite constellations, allowing for enhanced safety and reduced costs for the agency.
Digital Space Twin will also allow the USSF to wargame under realistic conditions and accurately measure the impact of current and potential threats from adversaries. A hyper-realistic virtual copy of space will give the USSF the opportunity to “test” different defensive responses should the unthinkable occur.
A sample visual of Slingshot Laboratories. (Image: Slingshot Aerospace)
Slingshot and the USSF will be implementing Digital Space Twin alongside Slingshot Laboratory, an immersive space education and training system. Using a VR space simulator built in part by The Third Floor (the VFX firm responsible for Gravity and The Mandalorian), Slingshot Laboratory is meant to give Space Force Guardians-in-training an idea of how various objects and spacecraft behave in space. Slingshot will develop and deploy pilot Laboratory programs to four USSF education organizations: Basic Military Training (BMT), National Security Space Institute (NSSI), the 319th Combat Training Squadron, and the 533rd Training Squadron.
“Space is a complex, rapidly evolving and unforgiving environment,” said Melanie Stricklan, co-founder and CEO of Slingshot Aerospace, in a statement. “Our Digital Space Twin is an unprecedented leap forward that provides a high-fidelity, physics-driven simulation of the actual, live space environment. This combined with the deployment of Slingshot Laboratory creates an extraordinarily powerful product suite that simply didn’t exist before.”