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From the Lab to the Launch Pad

Glimpse into my highlight experiences at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station for a military stakeholder tag-up.

Kyle Lyon
Kyle Lyon
3 min read
From the Lab to the Launch Pad

For the past six months, I've had the privilege of leading the Falcon Analytics project for the US Space Force (USSF) at Silicon Mountain. Our project aims to build out Space Force's operational intelligence by generating real-time risk analytics for launch-vehicle processing. A job well done will enable the military to predict potential issues and detect baseline deviations that could threaten mission assurance (a.k.a prevent rocket launch failures). Our work is part of a more considerable organization-wide effort to transform the USSF into a more data-centric organization equipped to meet future challenges.

This month, I had the opportunity to visit Cape Canaveral in Florida and meet with stakeholders from the 5th Space Launch Squadron 5SLS and USSF leadership. It was a chance to discuss the project in detail and witness some incredible moments, including a Falcon 9 static fire, a rocket launch, and joining in on a pad walk.

Below is a photo of my view witnessing the ninth launch of the Falcon 9 first-stage booster. I'm about two miles away in the shot, I believe. Getting there on time for the Starlink mission required us to wake up at the ungodly hour of 3 am to catch the 4:30 am launch. So it was pitch black outside, but the rocket's propulsion was a tremendous lightbulb.

Starlink Mission on Space Launch Complex 40 Photo / Captured on January 26, 2023

Here's a glimpse of the launch pad when I tagged along with some USSF and NASA engineers for a pad walk maintenance check ahead of the Starlink Mission that took place the previous week. Although my picture doesn't do it justice, the launch tower is massive. The crane and crawler used to hoist the rocket onto the pad are giant too.

Space Launch Complex 4 Photo / Captured on January 26, 2023

Then, our team rounded out our trip to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. I particularly enjoyed listening to Kennedy's iconic moon speech and watching the cinematics and reenactments of historic launches (I'm not sure if it's technically called a show, but it was entertaining!)

Working on this project has been inspiring to see how our work can positively impact USSF's capabilities to assure the nation's access to space. Being part of Falcon Analytics has been an incredible experience thus far, allowing me to introduce modern industry-grade data science and engineering to help with Space Force's ongoing digital innovation. I'm excited to see where our work takes us in the future.

Impressionist Oil Painting of Rocket Launch (credits)

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I'm Kyle, a Data Scientist in DevSecOps contracting with the U.S. Space Force through Silicon Mountain Technologies.