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To SpaceX and Beyond

Had the opportunity to work alongside the U.S. Space Force to innovate its mission assurance and flight surveillance efforts.

Kyle Lyon
Kyle Lyon
3 min read
To SpaceX and Beyond
U.S. Space Force Photo by Amanda Ryrholm / Captured on March 14, 2022

Through the Hacking for Defense program at George Washington University, I'm working with the 5th Space Launch Squadron (SLS) Falcon Flight to develop an analytical solution capable of leveraging historical SpaceX rocket launch data to assess mission risk and execute launch vehicle processing more efficiently.

The 5th SLS ensures that any launches with DoD payload operate successfully. The Falcon Flight team identifies potential risks between SpaceX commercial missions and DoD missions through manual reviews and deploying personnel to assess processing or hardware issues to ensure success.

Alongside my teammates, I'm working towards streamlining this review process by automating their data collection and analysis to isolate relevant information, identify trends, and predict launch vehicle processing risk. The success of this project would allow Falcon Flight to spot potential issues and infer areas of interest more efficiently, thus providing improved mission assurance.

For more details on the project, check out the article linked below.

Providing World Class Mission Assurance: How the 5th SLS is working with Hacking for Defen
The 5th Space Launch Squadron’s Falcon Flight has been working with four students from George Washington University through a National Security Innovation Network program called ‘Hacking for Defense’
By Senior Airman Thomas Sjoberg, Space Launch Delta 45 Public Affairs / Published April 04, 2022

My teammates and I conducted over 35 interviews with Space Force Engineers, Technicians, and Leadership throughout this project to genuinely understand the needs of Falcon Flight. After a couple of weeks of beneficiary discovery, it became clear that the 5th SLS would greatly benefit from adopting a data-centric approach to mission assurance.

The cultivation of data-centric culture is crucial for the Space Force, considering its ever-increasing launch cadence each year. If the number of space missions and launch providers is scaling, mission assurance practices need to scale too.

Our team's trip to the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS) further justified our confidence in an analytical solution. We sat in on an SLS Leadership meeting led by Lt. Col. David Schill and saw how an application of data analytics could benefit the organization at the managerial level.

In addition, getting first-hand exposure to the missions and launch providers at CCSFS helped us visualize how Falcon Flight executes flight surveillance and ideate ways to innovate its strategy through brainstorming sessions with our Space Force problem sponsors, Capt. Tory Robinson and Maj. Glen Pry.

My teammates and I have not had exposure to the space industry before working with Falcon Flight. Although space is a hot subject in international affairs, it is not necessarily easy to comprehend what is happening and why it is critical to national security. The Falcon Flight team assisted us in making these intangibles tangible and getting a clear view into the space industry and why it is essential commercially and for national security.

Additionally, the team enjoyed spending time and gaining experience with the latest military branch and learning about how the branch is innovating compared to other branches. Especially, we appreciated talking with people who have been there since the 70s allowing us to understand the history and grasp how far the industry has come, where it is moving, and where we play in the grand scheme.

U.S. Space Force Photo by Amanda Ryrholm / Captured on March 14, 2022

Kyle Lyon Twitter

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