What is the most interesting part of your current project?
It’s a Space Situational Awareness (SSA) project to observe activity around the Moon and in the Earth-Moon corridor, which is a really hot topic for government and commercial entities these days. It’s also interesting to interact with so many partners: we have a subcontract for a [spacecraft] bus provider; another for the bus propulsion system; we’re purchasing the communications system; our bus sub has a sub for the imaging payload while we’re providing our unique expertise on cislunar navigation, ops, systems, and comms; and all of this has to come together to accomplish the mission. Not to mention it’s super cool to be the prime and work directly with the customer on this contract!
What has been your favorite project at Advanced Space and why?
I’ve only worked on Oracle so far in my 6 months here, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s a challenging project and it’s so fun to work with such smart and self-motivated people at Advanced Space!
In addition to managing the Oracle program for Advanced Space, you are Director of Programs and Software Lead. How did that experience prepare you to support other missions?
I’ve been writing high-reliability, embedded software for resource-constrained environments for more than 20 years, the last 10 of which were for spacecraft. I resisted project and people leadership for a long time until I found that it was the next challenge I was looking for. I’m still solving problems – now with stochastic [i.e., random] variables! – and was surprised to find I really enjoy it. So when I came to Advanced Space, we combined those two skill sets to create my role of “Director of Programs and Software Lead.” That means I guide our project leads with best practices to deliver quality work to customers and report data-driven results to Advanced Space leadership. I also draw from my software background to guide our software, cloud, and DevOps engineers on software best practices, and will work with them to mature our software development processes in the near future.
How did you end up working at Advanced Space?
The day Rocket Lab bought my company, I wore my snazzy new RL-branded jacket to an Aerospace Happy Hour, so naturally Tom gave me a hard time about Rocket Lab delaying the CAPSTONE™ launch (which I knew nothing about, of course). I was impressed by the Advanced Space “vibe” of taking on challenging work that impacts humanity while still having fun together and maintaining good relationships with the larger aerospace community. so later when I was looking for a change, I talked Brad and Dawn up at another happy hour and here I am!
What’s unique about Advanced Space?
I enjoy being surrounded by such a great group of very intelligent, driven people who like to think creatively and solve difficult problems. I also like that we’re able to work hard while still enjoying each other’s company – it’s a good cultural balance of motivated people who can also relax around each other.
What would you say is unique about your background?
I seem to gravitate toward being a “bridge” crossing domains – connecting electrical/mechanical engineers to software engineers, engineers to scientists, technical staff to management, internal to external partners. I think it’s fun to see how disparate groups approach a problem slightly differently, and together produce a richer, more creative, complete solution.