Launch HN: Epsilon3 (YC S21) – Software for spacecraft and complex operations

149 points | by llcrabtree 382 days ago


  • k1rcher 382 days ago
    Wow. This is enormously impressive. I currently work for a small startup based out of Denmark in the renewable energies space (wind turbines) developing web based tools to assist in our ML operations.

    With a lifelong obsession with cosmology and astronomy, and perhaps even more applicably relevant; our own human advancement to and into the stars, I have increasingly become more and more inclined to the notion of further developing my current skillset with the eventual goal of transitioning to the space industry.

    My recent experience and exposure to renewable energies has given me massive insight to just how important companies like you guys are to furthering humanity’s progress. My question to you all regarding your technology, is how you manage what I imagine to be extraordinarily large, rich, and complex datasets that must vary between use cases (you mention hotels, debris removal, etc.). The data between these use cases must vary in structure— how is it normalized/standardized to work with your pipeline(s)? The commonality I see (as a fairly novice layman in terms of space technology) is of the rocket propulsion, orbiting, and payload delivery kind, but I’m sure the data it is far more nuanced and goes far beyond that.

    Furthermore, is any sort of machine learning applied on your side, perhaps in some sort of statistical analysis / metric reporting?

    I’m going to definitely keep an eye on you all at Epsilon3. Perhaps you will be looking for more engineers with web dev, data, ML, and cyber/info security experience in the future!

    Huge props. I can tell there is an extraordinary amount of innovation involved with this venture. Excited to see where you all go with this =)

    • alchemistmax 382 days ago
      Thank you for the kind words and great questions.

      We have been very thoughtful to build as flexible a framework as possible to support all those various use cases you said (not only in our user interface but also our API). We want to give end-users across the continuum of use cases the tools they need to be able to make Epsilon3 as useful for them as possible.

      We have a ton of ideas on applying ML on our side for exactly those use cases you described (metrics, analysis, reporting) but also for anomaly detection, error handling/risk reduction, and continuous improvement.

      We have our job openings posted at We're always on the lookout for strong full-stack software engineers.

  • aresant 382 days ago
    This is awesome and made my day knowing that the space industry is big enough to support a startup building this kind of ops tooling.

    You said “you don’t hear about most of those on the news” and you’re right - most of the customer logos on your website I’d never heard of - is there a website / twitter / ? that you rely on for daily coverage?

    I would love to build a better view of the industry, players, priorities.

    • alchemistmax 382 days ago
      Cheers! Thank you! is an amazing resource. is another that I follow.

      Payload Research newsletter rocks too:

      There's even a Slack bot to be notified of launches (most of which you don't hear about on the news):

      • aml183 382 days ago
        I run Payload Space. We are about to transition from a weekly newsletter to a media company. We hope to solve the problem that there is no real media coverage of the business and policy of space.
        • k1rcher 382 days ago
          Cool service.

          FYI: after signing up with the MailChimp form, clicking the “Continue to website” link on the signup confirmation page results in a 404.

          • aml183 382 days ago
            Thanks, we just built a new site and hiring some journalists. The MailChimp was just MVP to see if people cared about space news (which they clearly do).

            Expect a much more professional site in the coming weeks.

            • llcrabtree 382 days ago
              Yes! Super excited about this too. We love seeing information being shared about this industry more freely than before! And an increased interest doesn't hurt either. =)
      • pomian 382 days ago
        Orbital index has a very good email letter they send out with news, links, and great commentary. Sign up on site above.
      • josephgruber 382 days ago
        NewSpace Hub ( is also a great resource for tracking all of the new startups, and existing, in this industry.
      • aresant 382 days ago
        Awesome thank you
        • llcrabtree 382 days ago
          I second both Orbital Index and Payload Research!
  • josephgruber 382 days ago
    Love this! It's certainly surprising that something like this doesn't exist for the space industry yet (and other industries that do complex texting and operations). Glad to see someone working to fill that gap especially as the commercial space industry starts to blossom. Couple of thoughts/questions:

    1.) How do you convince space orgs that using a third-party SaaS offering is a better approach than building it in-house? Especially as part of the ERP the org may be using already?

    2.) Does Epsilon3 support scripted procedures? What language(s) does it support?

    3.) Any thoughts on a ChatOps like interface (e.g. Slack)?

    • llcrabtree 382 days ago
      Joseph, for #1, I've worked on in-house tools and: 1. They never get enough developers. 2. They usually get deprioritized in lieu of other projects. 3. Many small space companies don't have resources to build awesome in-house tools.

      It can be really time consuming and take the team's focus off of the primary goal as well, so we try to get teams to focus on the things that they are uniquely qualified to do, rather than build software to support their operation.

      • k1rcher 382 days ago
        > 1. They never get enough developers. 2. They usually get deprioritized in lieu of other projects.

        As a dev currently building out several fairly-complex in-house tools for a small startup, I can relate to this first-hand.

        It’s enormously frustrating as a perfectionist with a slightly neurotic obsession with (in a balanced and healthy way, trust me ;D) and appreciation for best practices, I have had to (against better judgement) sacrifice many things such as extensive time spent on in-depth automated testing, abstraction of reusable code for polymorphism and shared packages, extremely in depth documentation, and many other aspects that would contribute to long term viability and efficacy. This is of course for the sake of a business-friendly timeline, and that I can appreciate.

        There is a definite balance, and I have (and continue to) learn enormously from this business view on software. The “it just works” ethos can be scary further down the road. The economic upsides to this perspective for an MVP or POC type of development are absolutely massive, but I can’t help but think this could be supplemented further by dedicating more resources to focusing on best practices.

        Whether that focus comes from an internal team with more dedicated resources or a third party, I’m still unsure as to how that decision should be made.

        Either way, it has been very helpful in further developing my skills in communicating things like tech debt (what notions like automated testing actually mean in terms of value to a SaaS company) to the CEO and other colleagues who do not have software dev experience.

        • llcrabtree 382 days ago
          This is 100% my experience too. Something has to give when you're developing a tool for in-house use only. The same practices you'd use for developing a tool for a larger audience can't apply because you don't have endless resources, personnel or time when developing in-house. Thanks for this information. It's super helpful!
    • alchemistmax 382 days ago
      Nice! Thanks for great ideas and questions.

      1. Building in house is expensive, slow, and painful, and most teams have better things to spend their time on. We’re helping several teams move off their in-house solution because they aren’t satisfied with it.

      2. We are building out automation and scripting capabilities. We support integration with Python scripts and other local commanding destinations via our API.

      3. Love the idea! We already support real-time comments that are embedded in procedures. We want to build out even more things along those lines to streamline communications.

  • cuSetanta 382 days ago
    Is the any planned integration with requirement tracking software such as DOORS? If it were possible to flow test results back into the requirement specification systems it could seriously save a lot of time and money.

    Also, for commenting on procedure steps are there any additional tools available for the text formatting? We find we have to do a lot of red lining and colour coding as things progress to track deviations in a simple way for customers and PA to find.

    • llcrabtree 382 days ago
      Most certainly! We are planning to integrate with all software packages that our customers are using to enable really efficient operations for them. We have a few Next Gen DOORS customers, as well as other requirements tracking tools. I love the suggestions!

      In addition, we can comment and actively redline running procedures. If you want me to show you I'd be happy to. You can email me at and in addition I'll make a small tutorial and link it here when complete.

      • cuSetanta 381 days ago
        Thats really cool to hear, I hate working with DOORS, so anything to automate the interaction is great!

        If it is ok with you, can I pass on your information to our Business Development team, I will stay involved for sure, but they are the best positioned to see how the software could fit into our systems.

  • dtx1 382 days ago
    Is your name a Babylon 5 Reference?

  • spops_anonymous 382 days ago
    Oh, it’s llcrabtree! We didn’t cross paths but I’ve seen your name all over Confluence. :) (I was on the training team after you left.) This is gonna be rad. Can’t wait to see where it goes.
    • llcrabtree 382 days ago
      Oh it is LLCrabtree! I'd love to connect. Send me an email =)
  • kartikkumar 382 days ago
    Congrats! Great to see YC supporting more software companies that are working towards finally bringing the "boring" parts of the sector into the 21st century.

    If you're interested in exploring the idea of supply chain integration, I'd love to chat. We're an ESA-backed, online marketplace for the space sector [1], and we've built a few integrations already to bring tools and data together for engineers.


  • alchemistmax 382 days ago
    So excited to be part of Epsilon3 and helping so many awesome companies with their testing and operations.

    I hope everyone saw the recent epic Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic flights. Those are just the first small step in what's to be a very exciting future. Epsilon3 wants to eventually help so many more people go to space. Now that we’ve had two billionaires go up to space, maybe someone in the HN community can be next?

  • allyew 382 days ago
    Really excited to be part of this team! Laura was talking yesterday about tearing up at after the Blue Origin launch, not just because it's amazing to send people to space, but because it requires the work and communication of thousands of people to take them up and bring them home safe. We're excited to build tools to enable all of the hard work that leads up to a successful launch!
    • llcrabtree 382 days ago
      yes to this! It takes a huge team to make something like that successful, and we want to continue to support those teams!
  • 101008 382 days ago
    Congrulations on the launch, it sounds awesome. This is one of the companies where I would love to work. Are you taking remote candidates?
  • sullyx 382 days ago
    Excited for this launch! Our customers are doing literal rocket science and every day is an amazing opportunity for us to build the supporting technology they need to do amazing things.

    Rocket science is hard, but running your operations shouldn't be! At Epsilon3 we're solving the software challenges of complex operations so you can get back to what you do best - space!

  • jk4930 382 days ago
    First, congrats on launching. Second, "AWS GovCloud for ITAR compliance," can the USG access my data (EU company) then?
    • alchemistmax 382 days ago
      Thanks! No, the US Government can't access your data. Only you can. GovCloud is just a special portion of AWS that has extra security controls so that US companies are confident that all their data is housed in US servers and properly treated according to ITAR regulations. It's totally fine for companies outside the US to use and doesn't give the government any access.

      We also support on-premises deployments if that's preferable to companies outside the US.

      • techdragon 382 days ago
        I’m building up a space related non-profit (space telescopes) and I’m not in the USA.

        So ITAR is a poison, it is great you have an ITAR Free option, do you have any plans to host in other AWS regions long term? And how much more is on-premises likely to cost me?

        • alchemistmax 382 days ago
          Yep, we are planning on hosting in other AWS regions as well. For pricing, let's discuss offline because it'll depend on a few things. Can you fill out the Contact form on our website (, and we can take it from there?
          • techdragon 381 days ago
            Awesome! Definitely will be filling it out. Just had to ask the obvious ITAR question, so I could set my expectations appropriately of course.

            Im sure you’re getting the same feedback from a lot of other non-USA potential customer so it’s great to hear you already have a plan.

  • soco 382 days ago
    I don't understand yet the pain being adressed. If today it can be solved with pen and paper or Word, it looks to me that realtime sync or data visualization were not a must (disasters seem to be avoided today just as well). Nice to have, without doubt, but not a must. So your software makes it a nice experience for everybody involved, right?
    • llcrabtree 382 days ago
      Yes, it's been accomplished with paper in the past, but at great expense as many of the teams of the past were large. Take for example any control room of the 1960s, which had 40-60 people in it. Today's teams are scattered (and working from home much of the time), and much smaller (think less than 5) and must be able to accomplish the same tasks as those larger teams of the 1960s. Our software enables the teams to be smaller, more agile, and communicate better from anywhere in the world.
    • alchemistmax 382 days ago
      There's a ton of time wasted in miscommunications and lost paper records or illegible handwriting on test logs. And there have been many disasters and lives lost in the past, so anything that can be done to avoid that is worth seriously considering. Plus we make it a nicer experience and way faster.
      • soco 381 days ago
        Very true, papers are so time consuming and risky... eh. Otherwise maybe we are not thinking about the same events, so can you please detail some many disasters and lives lost? The only ones coming to mind are the space shuttles...
  • ryanwesterdahl 382 days ago
    Excited to be using this product for ensuring clearly documented and easy to make test procedures for our propulsion testing, and eventually for our satellite operations. Keep up the good work Epsilon3 and I look forward to becoming a hardcore power user!
    • llcrabtree 381 days ago
      We're so excited to support such amazing companies such as yours!
    • alchemistmax 382 days ago
      So grateful for your kind words and honored to be supporting your team!
  • lavezza 382 days ago
    Laura, congratulations. Does it support acronyms? :)

    Anyone interested should sign up for the changelog emails. It's only 1-2 emails a month and shows how much progress Laura and her team are making.

    • llcrabtree 382 days ago
      Lol, thanks Pat. I keep telling the team that we won't allow acronyms. That feature is 100% on the list. Currently they are allowed, however future revisions might not allow acronyms, or might force you to define them. Certainly keep your eyes peeled for this new *feature*.
      • lavezza 382 days ago
        I was just kidding of course, but the idea of defined acronyms is interesting. Hover over an acronym and see the expanded text.
  • deeptailor 382 days ago
    Extremely excited for this launch! We have amazing companies doing some really cool stuff in the space sector! Cannot wait to support all the amazing missions with Epsilon3!
  • robinhood 381 days ago
    I had no idea this niche existed. However, no sarcasm here at all, but do people in the space industry read HN and Product Hunt at all?
    • alchemistmax 381 days ago
      Surprisingly, enough of them seem to!
  • abtinf 381 days ago
    Would you say your software is appropriate for aerospace manufacturing and quality management system data collection?
  • heaths1 382 days ago
    Looks very interesting. I surfed around your site and watched the video. So how about nonconformance processing? Do you have workflows for that, or is that where something like JIRA comes in?

    Also, have you utilized anything like the S1000D aerospace data schema with this tool, or are you rolling your own?

    • alchemistmax 382 days ago
      We are planning to have some dedicated functionality to help with non-conformance, anomalies, and other related things. We also plan to integrate with JIRA for separate reasons too.

      We have not implemented a standard data scheme yet, but that's a great idea. We've been letting our customers set up their own schema and structure based on their needs, but I can definitely see the value of being able to adopt an industry-standard schema, so that's a great idea.

      I'd love to learn more about your use case and understand better where you're coming from on those points.

  • MayeulC 381 days ago
    Interesting. This sounds like a good fit for CRDTs somewhat, though a centralized architecture might offer more robustness guarantees. On the other hand, it would be quite easy to display sync status as part of the UI.
    • alchemistmax 381 days ago
      That's an interesting idea. We plan to eventually support some level of decentralization and syncing while starting with the centralized approach first.
  • giantg2 382 days ago
    Very cool domain and background.
  • abhinav22 381 days ago
    Congrats, anything related to space sounds super cool :)
  • aml183 382 days ago
    They are the real deal! Awesome team and product.