Impulse To Innovation
Season 2 Episode 1: Looking Skyward - How Satellite Technology is Changing Our View of Space

Season 2 Episode 1: Looking Skyward - How Satellite Technology is Changing Our View of Space

February 1, 2021

In this month’s episode we turn our attention skyward, to the captivating world of space and specifically satellite technology.

Humankind’s fascination with the cosmos has never really waivered, but last year saw a resurgence in interest, after a 9 year absence, of a fully-reusable space vehicle and its first human crew; when Behnken and Hurley took off in the Dragon capsule atop the falcon 9 rocket.

But the launch of satellites is often met with much less fanfare, yet we couldn’t live our technology-driven lives and we certainly wouldn’t have learnt about the wonders beyond our solar system without them. In fact, of the 104 successful space flights last year, 80% of them were to put satellite technologies into space. So what can we learn from these complex technologies?

Useful Links:

https://www.spacex.com/

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/amazing-earth-satellite-images-from-2020/

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/

https://www.harwellcampus.com/space-cluster/

 

Helen’s guests this month are both enthusiastic engineers working in different areas of the satellite technology industry. They are driven by their fascination for how they operate, communicate and how they are changing the way we preserve the universe.

Helen chats with Christine Brockley-Blatt, Senior Project Manager at Mullard Space Science Laboratory and fellow of the IMechE. Chris has worked on Beagle 2; the British Mars Lander, and the SPIRE instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope which is due to launch in 2021. She is now the Project Manager of the VIS Instrument on the Euclid Space Telescope. Chris took time out of her day to talk to Helen about building satellites and how her 14 years of dedication to the recently launched Solar Orbiter will tell us more about the physics of our sun than ever before.

Useful Links:

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/mssl/

http://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/Solar_Orbiter

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-satellite-propulsion-test-facility-to-propel-uk-into-new-space-age

 

Mike Lawton is an electronic & electrical engineer and serial space technology entrepreneur. He certainly knows a thing or two about squeezing large satellite structures into small spaces and has built an award-winning business innovating deployable assemblies for the satellite industry, such as solar panel arrays, antennas and boom systems. His motivation is to challenge tried and tested techniques by creating lighter, less complex and lower cost systems for satellite manufacturers. Helen talks to Mike about solar array origami, the problems with space debris and how engineers are finding ways to re-use old satellites while still in space.

https://oxford.space/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtBYjYwkVm0KdpRwtA7kcVA/videos

https://www.imeche.org/news/news-article/space-agency-announces-1m-fund-for-ideas-to-tackle-space-debris

 

We would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this episode or about your experiences, interest or work in Space & Satellite Technology. If you would like to get in touch email us at podcast@imeche.org

You can find more information about the work of the IMechE at www.imeche.org