The US Space Force will use a 'digital twin' to simulate satellite incidents

Slingshot's technology could help mission teams prepare for the worst.

Slingshot Aerospace Laboratory operating digital twin (Slingshot Aerospace)

The US Space Force needs to prepare for calamities, but how can it do that when it can't practice using real satellites in orbit? It's going to use a digital twin, apparently. Slingshot Aerospace says it's developing a "Digital Space Twin" that will combine physics-based modelling with real-time object mapping to help the Space Force simulate various situations and plan responses well in advance.

The twin will help mission teams decide how to react to a potential collision, for instance. The Space Force could also use the simulation to design safer and more efficient satellite constellations. And yes, the military branch will also use the digital environment to ready itself for "nefarious acts" from countries with a less-than-peaceful approach to space.

Slingshot is building the Digital Space Twin thanks to a 39-month, $25.2 million contract. The funding will also help Slingshot conduct a pilot program that brings a Laboratory simulation platform (shown above) to Space Force educational and training outfits, including Basic Military Training, the National Security Space Institute and two training squadrons.

Any practical proof of effectiveness is likely years away. With that said, digital twins like this might be crucial for the Space Force and other beyond-Earth agencies. They could not only trim costs and speed up development, but help avoid disasters that ruin costly spacecraft or spark international incidents.