Major Tom to the Moon! A Day in the Life Never Quite Looks the Same from Space Part 2
For part 2 of episode 2 on the Ground Control | Checking In podcast, host and Kubos Chief Operating Officer, Simon Halpern, spoke with Michael Ricks-Aherne, Director of Mission Control for Kubos.
After working several years out of the space industry, Michael was missing being involved with space. “I first wanted to moonlight (to get back) in the space industry, and Tyler Browder (Kubos’s CEO) eventually talked me into the Director of Mission Control position,” Michael said. Admittedly, it did not take too much convincing from Tyler as he was excited about the opportunity. “That’s my bread and butter; mission control is the closest you can be to space without being an astronaut. I would say it was a fairly easy sell on Tyler’s part to get me to come to Kubos,” Michael said.
Though excited to be back in the space industry, Michael acknowledges the challenges associated with working in space, saying, “there are so many things that can go wrong in space. That’s the big difference between space and other software industries. The consequences are much higher. You make one little mistake, and your whole rocket and satellites onboard go up in flames. Optimizing in the face of all the difficulties- solar storms, bugs on the ground and in space- it’s a massive, extremely complex, and interesting problem to solve. Good mission control can save your satellite. I love space, and mission control gets me fired up.”
To the Moon! The Evolution of Mission Control
The key to a mission control platform is situational awareness and actionability. Michael said, “every display should tell you what it’s important within the context of that display. Information should be dense and actionable, navigation between displays should be logical, and mostly hierarchical. You should be able to command your entire constellation with a button and dive down really low and send bits and bites to a specific satellite.”
With Kubos’ mission control platform, Major Tom, Michael sees a tremendous opportunity, saying laughingly on the episode, “my frustration only comes in the area of how fast we can get to the promised land. I’m always bugging Tyler (Kubos’ CEO), saying, get me more engineers!”
With the cloud revolution coming to space, Michael described how it would transform the industry. “For all the same reasons that down here it’s easier to build your business in the cloud, it’s going to be similar in space. One of the things that excites me most about what we are doing is how it fits into this larger arc of space development, particularly when it comes to infrastructure in space.”
When Simon asked where Michael sees Kubos headed, he replied, “to the moon! I would love Major Tom to be a reflection of the growth of the space industry.”