20 LONGISLANDPRESS.COM • NOVEMBER 2020
APPLIED TO VISIONS CEO THE FRANK ZINGHINI MOON
BY CLAUDE SOLNIK
Frank Zinghini is part of a mission to
the Moon designed to be a long-awaited
return for NASA and the nation.
He is president, CEO, and founder
of Northport-based Applied Visions
and Pittsburgh-based SDS, a sister
company working on testing software
and hardware for Astrobotic Technology’s
journey to the Moon. We talked
with Zinghini, who has a bachelor’s in
electrical engineering and a master’s
in computer science both from Stony
Brook University, about SDS’s role and
Do you remember the first Moon
landing? Crystal clear. It was one of
those pivotal moments you can’t forget.
I was sitting in the basement. I was 11
years old at the time. I was watching on
a 19-inch black-and-white TV. I remember
my mom jumping up and down
when they took the first step. So
I remember it.
Did it ever occur to you that
you or a company you own
would be involved in going
to the Moon? Certainly not
when I was 11. I already had
a deep interest in space and
space tech when I was a kid.
That’s one of the reasons I
got into engineering, my
interest in aerospace and
the fact that we did so many
interesting things here on
Long Island. As I got older, I
started to think, “Wouldn’t
it be cool to do this sort of
What’s it like for a Long
Islander to be involved
not just in computers,
but a lunar landing? I
fell in love with computers
and software in high
school. It never ceases to
fascinate me, what we can
make happen — from landing
on the Moon to mobile
apps. I love it. I can’t wait to get
to work every day. I grew up in
Northport. I went to Northport High
School, then Stony Brook. I’m a Long
Islander through and through. How
cool is it to be involved with a moon
landing after what Long Island did
Is there stress in working on equipment
for space? Engineering developing
space systems is stressful, because
you only get one shot at it. With an
airplane, you can take a test flight. With
a rocket, you push a button and it goes.
Is Astrobotic’s work part of a bigger
picture with space? This is part of
NASA’s fresh approach to space travel,
where they lean on commercial
business to achieve breakthroughs.
NASA is purchasing services from
commercial companies like SpaceX
and Boeing, which helps create and
grow those services, rather than
directly funding the R&D
for space travel.
Is this an unmanned
flight? The term of
art today is “uncrewed,”
we have plenty of
women going into
space. We have
flight is an incredibly
part of space
travel, but you
still need humans
which is why we
have the space
What is SDS or
Solutions doing for
the Peregrine? SDS
has clients in many
We are building test
equipment. You need to
test systems rigorously
before you send them into space.
Is SDS making software, hardware
or both? It’s both. It takes a lot of work
to test space systems. The systems
are very complex and often very intelligent.
There are a lot of computer
processors in the spacecraft. To test
those, you have to simulate what they’ll
experience in space.
What are you testing? You can imagine
any spacecraft will have propulsion
systems, guidance systems, scientific
payloads. The reason you put these up
there is to do science. All the systems
that make those things happen involve
complex electronics and software that
they’re building, because that’s their
specialty. Those systems need to be
How do you test them? The testing
we’re doing is at the subsystem level.
If they develop a complex computer
board to control the propulsion system,
that will need a circuit board. We will
design a test they can plug that circuit
board into that provides the electronic
signals the propulsion system generates.
And you can test the output.
How important is testing computers?
Far too often in software in general,
people don’t pay enough attention to
testing. Then they have problems with
software that goes out into the field or
their website crashes.
Is testing on schedule and when is
the launch scheduled? Our work is
on schedule. Our belief is their schedule
is to launch next July. They’re
working day in and out on their spacecraft,
using our test equipment to do
that. The interesting thing about test
equipment is our work is done when
Frank Zinghini also owns Pittsburgh-based SDS, a company
working on testing software and hardware for Astrobotic Technology’s
journey to the Moon.
“It never ceases to fascinate me, what we can
make happen — from landing on the Moon to
mobile apps,” says Frank Zinghini.