Those Space People

A podcast series of casual cosmic conversations with people working on all things space.

All Episodes

Episode 20 – Reversing climate change using satellite imagery

Anastasia Volkova is the CEO and co-founder of Regrow, a startup empowering agriculture and trying to reverse climate change through satellite imagery and technology. Anastasia has a background in aerospace engineering and UAV navigation. She is currently based in Los Angeles, USA. 

Anastasia shares insights on building inclusive agri solutions that are scalable across geographies given the diverse farming practices. As a polyglot who speaks a dozen languages, she also brings cultural sensitivity to their solutions. She talks about her highly diverse team working remotely from across the world and how people around her have been an inspiration to take action against climate change. Making current day agricultural practices more transparent and thereby drive consumer behaviour towards more sustainable sourcing, is their way of reversing climate change. For anyone looking for more ideas at the intersection of earth observation and climate change, monitoring of green house gases in one interesting problem waiting to be solved!

Episode 19 – Deep dive with a space lawyer

Deepika Jeyakodi is a space lawyer. She currently works with Airbus as a Commercial Contracts and Bid Manager. She is based in the Netherlands.

Deepika takes us on an incredible journey into the world of space law and the myriad ways space lawyers keep things going. She talks about how legal instruments work differently (or not) for space and explains the role of space lawyers at different levels in the space value chain. She believes that space lawyers alongside historians, sociologists and economists even from non-space faring nations should play a role in shaping the future behaviour in space.

Deepika explains that given the diverse fields of space law, anyone (engineers, accountants, bankers, yes anybody!) with an open and creative mind can kickstart a career in space law.

Episode 18 – Being a rocket engineer at ISRO

Surbhi Baghotia is an engineer at the Indian space research organisation ISRO. She has a background in aerospace engineering and has mainly been working on launch vehicles and most lately the human space flight mission of ISRO – Gaganyaan. She is also the president of the alumni association of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), ISRO’s very own space university.

Surbhi talks about her journey as a rocket engineer working on the Indian Space Research Organisation ISRO’s rockets and most lately the Gaganyaan mission – India’s human space flight program. She shares insights on team dynamics and how strong communication between diverse teams has a very direct impact on the engineering quality of rockets. Surbhi also envisions building an internal professional network at ISRO to facilitate personal relationships and thereby promote faster and easier communication between engineers at different ISRO centers that are distributed across the country.

Episode 17 – Drawing parallels between maritime law and space law

Helen Tung is a UK trained barrister and founder of Newspace2060. She has experience in maritime law and commercial disputes in the UK, UAE and consults for clients from across the world. She has previously advised the UK Maritime Coastguard, law firms in Seoul & Shanghai, the European Commission, METI and the UAE Space Agency.

Helen draws parallels between maritime law and space law and gives a detailed perspective on the space law landscape. She also talks about how established and emerging space actors approach space policy and space sustainability differently. Helen shares her vision of newspace in the next few decades and how startups from across the world are changing the space landscape. She also talks about the opportunities offered by UAE for engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs and other professionals. Having a space law degree is surprisingly not the biggest pre-requisite to kick-start a career in space law!

Episode 16 – Ground segment of space missions from a software perspective

Vanesa Gomez Gonzalez is a ground software engineer with Capella Space. She has previously worked with NASA and also ESA as a software engineer. Vanessa has a background in software development.

Vanessa talks about the ground operations and ground processing aspects of space missions. Having worked at both ESA and NASA, and also with the American private space industry, she shares insights on how space missions are dealt with differently in all these places. Vanesa also highlights the importance of knowing scripting languages when working in an engineering environment. Software developers looking to get into space, do listen in for some great advice!

Episode 15 – How space policy is done

Stephanie Wan is an international business development and government relations manager and has been supporting the U.S. and international government agencies on mapping space technologies and applications to other sectors. She has a background in international relations and Science and Technology Policy. She currently works for I.M. Systems Group that provides environmental modelling and intelligence support to NOAA and other agencies. Stephanie is currently based in San Francisco.

Stephanie talks about space policy and shares insights into how it is done differently across the world drawing from her experiences in multiple geographies and with several government organisations and private institutions.

Episode 14 – How headhunting works in the space industry

Seyka Mejeur and Brian Mejeur are the co-founders of AdAstra – a headhunting and people operations firm focusing on newspace. Seyka has a background in psychology and human resources management. Brian has a background in aerospace engineering.

Seyka and Brian bring their unique experiences to headhunting for newspace companies in the US. Given her experience in talent acquisition, Seyka shares insights on the team-building process and how it is similar (or different!) for newspace. Having been an engineer with SpaceX, Brian offers valuable advice to professionals looking for opportunities.

While space is ITAR restricted in the US, areas such as autonomous drones and vertical take-off have a talent overlap with space and make great alternatives!

Episode 13 – Astronaut’s perspective on the role of art in space

Nicole Stott is a veteran NASA astronaut and artist. She is also the Director of the Space for Art Foundation. She had a background in aeronautical engineering. Nicole is currently based in Florida.

As a veteran NASA astronaut and an artist who promotes space-themed art therapy, Nicole Stott shares her perspective on how art in various forms can play a major role in solving current-day problems in space and in the future of space exploration. Just as she was always mindful about the well-being of her crewmates on the ISS in terms of their oxygen supply, food, and clean water, she believes humanity can also make our world a better place for everyone by perceiving Earth as one giant spaceship and regarding all humans as crewmates.

Episode 12 – How Venture Capital works in the space industry

Lindsey Yee works with Starbridge Venture Capital which is a VC fund that focuses on the space sector. She has a background in international business and economics. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Linsey takes us through the Venture Capital Universe and shares insights on how they evaluate space startups. She talks about how space VC funds work closely with one another and the importance of one’s professional network in placing the right bets. She talks about how space focused VC funds are and aren’t 🙂 different from non-tech and high-tech VC funds. Who makes the best space startup founders – new graduates or experienced industry professionals? Listen in to know the verdict!

Episode 11 – Life as a space engineer at NASA JPL

Heather Ann Bottom is a systems engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She has a background in astrophysics and space engineering. She is currently based in Hawaii. Most recently, Heather has been a part of the Perseverance rover team of the Mars 2020 mission.

Unlike most space folk, Heather was once a professional dance performer and had dreams of being on Broadway before she caught the space bug. She draws interesting parallels between space missions and the performing arts. Having worked on the launch and cruise phases of the super cool Perseverance rover, she shares insights on the finer aspects of the Mars 2020 and other NASA missions. Having formerly worked with SpaceX, she talks about the differences in working on space missions at a research lab compared to an agile private company like SpaceX.

Given its location in Los Angeles, JPL apparently attracts talent from Hollywood! No wonder they have such amazing visuals for all missions and excellent outreach programs.

Episode 10 – Exploring space archeology with Dr Space Junk

Alice Gorman, popularly known as Dr. Space Junk, is a space archeologist. She examines defunct satellites, rocket parts and such abandoned human-made objects in space and researches their preservation as cultural heritage. She is currently based in Adelaide, Australia.

Being an archeologist, it is quite interesting how Alice got interested in space and eventually pioneered Space Archeology. Just by examining discarded cable ties, she could unearth important details about a long forgotten space mission that had never been documented.

Did you know that current day satellite communication could have taken a very different path had the little known Project Westford not been discontinued? Alice shares insights on how to get the common person to take ownership of the Moon and contribute towards humanity making sustainable decisions during space exploration and space resource utilisation. 

Episode 9 – Astronomer’s perspective on space debris, sci-fi, and the drake equation

Jonathan Mcdowell is an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian center of astrophysics. He studies black holes, quasars and X-ray sources in galaxies and also happens to be one of the few astronomers who takes an active interest in tracking satellites and recording rocket launches.

Jonathan takes us through his work at the Smithsonian and talks about different kinds of astronomers and their research. He apparently feels like Forrest Gump (but I say way smarter!) having witnessed so many incredible breakthroughs made in astronomy during the last three decades. He is an avid reader of space sci-fi and loves to show everyone the incredible night sky through a telescope. Jonathan has an interesting take on solving the space traffic management problem and shares his perspectives on the drake equation.

Episode 8 – Building AI-powered remote sensing solutions gets accelerated with domain expertise

Juan Peña Ibáñez is the CEO of Orbital EOS, a Spanish company that develops maritime solutions using Satellite Data & Artificial Intelligence. Juan has a background in Oceanography and Remote Sensing. He is currently based in Valencia, Spain.

Juan explains how his decade-long experience with the Spanish Coast Guard is helping him build an AI-powered satellite remote sensing platform for maritime applications. He talks about the immense scope for innovation in this domain especially given the many upcoming satellites and satellite constellations. A remote sensing degree paired with AI knowledge is the ideal combination to accelerate in this space!  

Episode 7 – How space architects design human habitats for Moon and beyond

Barbara Imhof is the co-founder of Liquifer, a newspace company in Vienna, Austria. Liquifer works with space agencies across the world on space habitation and exploration technologies and similar advanced research areas. Liquifer’s team is trans-disciplinary and Barbara is a space architect among other things.

Barbara talks about space architecture and gives an architect’s perspective on designing human habitats in space. Sharing the belief of Buckminster Fuller that humans are all astronauts aboard the spaceship called Earth, she applies the design principles of space habitats to model terrestrial ones under extreme conditions such as in Antarctica. Acquire an interdisciplinary skill set to navigate this fascinating realm of building whole worlds in space!

Episode 6 – On-orbit servicing will be the next giant leap

Carolyn Belle is the Director of Advanced Systems at Astroscale US. Astroscale is a newspace company dedicated to on-orbit servicing. She is currently based in Denver, Colorado.

Carolyn talks about the complexity of the space debris problem and how different stakeholders in the space ecosystem need to come together to make space sustainable. She believes that on-orbit servicing is going to be the next big step for the space industry and the jobs created subsequently would thrill space sci-fi aficionados!

Episode 5 – Making a career in the space industry with non-tech background

Juliane Haupt is the head of business partnerships at Astrofein, a space company based in Berlin that develops satellite components and subsystems. She has a background in psychology and mobility.

Juliane shares her unique experience of navigating the space scene with a background in Psychology. She elaborates on how individuals from diverse backgrounds are required for the space industry and how they can carve a niche for themselves even without a technical background. Diversity inspires us all to collectively make better decisions.

Episode 4 – Scope for innovation in the earth observation domain

Christian Williges is a newspace consultant based in Berlin, Germany. He had co-founded the company ConstellR which is building a satellite constellation with thermal sensors. Christian had previously worked with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and has a background in laser and opto technologies.

Christian shares insights on building a satellite company and talks about the ample scope for innovation in the earth observation domain. An engineering or science degree is definitely great to have but apparently one can also thrive here without one!

Episode 3 – Space traffic management as a service

Kristina Nikolaus is the co-founder and managing director of Okapi Orbits which is a newspace startup that provides risk monitoring and collision avoidance services for space operators. She is currently based in Braunschweig, Germany.

Kristina talks about offering space traffic management as a service to satellite operators

Episode 2 – How satellites help monitor forest fires and gas flares

Agnieszka Soszyńska is a doctoral candidate at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Berlin. Her research is focused on monitoring of gas flares using satellite imagery. She shares insights into how satellite imagery help monitor gas flares and forest fires, some of the biggest contributors to climate change.

Episode 1 – How system engineers help send humans to space

Antonella Sgambati is a system engineer for human spaceflight at OHB, one of the leading aerospace companies in Europe.

Antonella talks about human spaceflight missions and the role of a systems engineer in space missions