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Space Blog

Inside Mission Concepts with Kathryn Graham

Space Blog caught up with Kathryn Graham, leader of SSTL’s Mission Concepts team last week "“a rare and exciting opportunity to get inside the "innovation engine" and find out where new ideas are put to the test. Kathryn has a degree in Physics with Astrophysics, and a Phd in XRAY Astronomy. Her career began at QINETIQ where she worked for 10 years in Military Space Surveillance. Ironically, her last role before joining SSTL was as the image processing engineer for the TopSat mission "“ a high resolution small satellite technology demonstration that SSTL built for the TopSat consortium. In fact, she processed the first images downloaded from TopSat in 2005.
Kathryn Graham - Mission Concepts
Kathryn Graham - Mission Concepts
Kathryn has been part of SSTL for 3 years, migrating from its Mission Systems team to head up Mission Concepts. During this time, one of the highlights was completing a study exploring utilisation of DMC type missions within ESA’s landmark GMES programme.
Ignoring any official job title, I was the "˜Feasibility study person’ at that time and I found the GMES study very interesting. My hard work was well received by ESA "“ which I found very rewarding.
Kathryn said that she finds her role at SSTL hard work like any job, but also exciting, commenting:
I work in a company that launches satellites for God’s sake "“ how many people can say that!
Kathryn also said that she found the company culture very welcoming:
People feel that they matter "“ and everyone pulls together as a team.
Of course, it’s not all stardust and rocketry. Kathryn draws upon her background to analyse desk research, reports and feasibility studies. She commented: "I’m a scientist and in my job I attend conferences, review current missions and perform feasibility studies "“ we’re also lucky to have a number of experts in-house that I regularly call upon for views." Mission Concepts Mission Concepts considers concepts for their scientific, technological and commercial merits and feasibility "“ as opposed to the Mission Systems unit which deals with projects that are close to mission sign up. It is a special dedicated team for research which ultimately belongs to the Engineering department of SSTL. Of course at SSTL a concept isn’t just a pipe dream. In a culture of innovation, the right idea can become a full-blown development program within months using proven "off-the-shelf" satellite platforms. Mission Concepts identifies trends, new technologies and applications in space and assesses their feasibility. For example, Mission Concepts conducted an altimeter constellation feasibility study for ESA and also contributed to work for the Sentinel 5 Precursor programme. Mission Concepts also helps customers to define the requirements for their space programme or mission. Last but not least, the team asks itself questions like "What’s the next Disaster Monitoring Constellation?" This is a highly successful Earth Observation constellation that is not only sustainable but also expanding, providing rapid and global Earth observation "“ but started with an innovative vision combining new technologies with an unprecedented model of International partnership. No two days are ever the same for Mission Concepts so let’s look into a few of the projects that they have been involved with.





15 September 20100 Comments1 Comment

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