WASHINGTON — Scout Space, a five-year-old startup developing satellite safety technologies, announced Jan. 18 that Philip Hover-Smoot, its former chief counsel, is stepping up as chief executive officer. 

Co-founder Eric Ingram, previously the company’s CEO, transitions to chairman and chief strategy officer.

Hover-Smoot, a veteran space and defense executive, joined Scout Space last October. As CEO, his goal is to steer the 20-person startup toward commercialization after years of focusing on technical research and development projects, including several funded by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force.

“We are at an inflection point,” Hover-Smoot told SpaceNews

Scout Space has landed a number of research and study contracts and “now we need to refocus on execution, on growing and scaling and making sure that we’re delivering on the promises we’ve made to the U.S. government by ramping up execution and growth.”

The company’s long-term goal is to produce sensing payloads and software that give spacecraft eyes to enable better navigation and avoid threats.

Philip Hover-Smoot. Credit: Scout Space

“Up to this point Scout has been doing early stage and mid stage SBIRs,” which are Small Business Innovation Research projects. The plan for the near future is to “demonstrate real capabilities,” he said. The company is working on two payloads that it hopes to launch to orbit in upcoming rideshare missions. 

“There are a number of things that we’re looking at doing with the U.S. government and that is likely to be most of our revenue in the next 12 to 24 months,” Hover-Smoot said. 

Scout Space is pursuing commercial opportunities but its current dependence on military contracts is “just a reflection of the reality that the new space market hasn’t really evolved as quickly as we all would have liked,” he added. “Everyone would love to go build gigantic constellations, and we would love to sell to the commercial market, it just hasn’t materialized yet.” 

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...