Bridgit Mendler: From Disney Star to Space Industry CEO

Bridgit Mendler, known for her roles in Disney Channel productions such as “Good Luck Charlie” and “Wizards of Waverly Place,” as well as her musical career, is embarking on a new venture to revolutionize how satellite data is accessed on Earth.

After pursuing studies at both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Law School, Mendler’s exposure to her self-described “engineering household” and her time at the Federal Communications Commission’s Space Bureau sparked a passion for space law.

This passion led her to establish Northwood Space, headquartered in El Segundo, California, where she serves as CEO.

Mendler envisions creating a “data highway” between Earth and space to streamline the transmission of data. Despite advancements in space technology, she notes that sending data to and from space remains challenging due to the difficulty in establishing contact points with satellites.

Northwood Space’s approach differs from traditional space ventures. Instead of focusing on rocket or satellite development, the startup aims to mass-produce ground stations, also known as teleports. These ground stations, which connect to satellites in space, play a crucial role in data transmission.

Bridgit Mendler, CEO of Northwood Space
Mendler transitions from Disney star to space industry CEO, revolutionizing satellite data access.

With initial funding of approximately $6 million from investors like Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, and Also Capital, Northwood is off to a promising start.

Mendler leads the company alongside her husband, Griffin Cleverly, who serves as the chief technology officer, and Shaurya Luthra, the head of software. Both Cleverly and Luthra bring valuable expertise from their engineering backgrounds, including stints at Lockheed Martin and Mitre Corporation.

The idea for Northwood originated during the Covid-19 pandemic, while Mendler was spending time with family at a lake in New Hampshire.

Utilizing makeshift antennas constructed from materials found at Home Depot, Mendler and her team successfully received data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites. For Mendler, the significance of ground stations lies in their ability to bring the impacts of space technology closer to people’s everyday lives.

Cleverly emphasizes the exponential growth of data in the space industry and the need for reliable and efficient data transmission.

Northwood Space prioritizes fast ground station production
Northwood Space prioritizes fast ground station production, enabling swift adaptation to evolving needs.

Northwood aims to address this demand by prioritizing fast production and deployment of ground stations, aiming to deliver them within days rather than months. This approach ensures that satellite operators can quickly adapt to evolving needs without lengthy delays in reconfiguring networks.

Initially targeting satellites in low Earth orbit, Northwood aims to provide services to companies seeking to avoid the high costs of building their ground station networks.

By offering a solution to the bottleneck of shared ground stations, the startup aims to provide customers with accessibility comparable to cloud computing services like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

With plans to conduct the first test connecting to a spacecraft later this year, Northwood Space is poised to make significant strides in transforming the accessibility and efficiency of satellite data transmission.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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