Nearly three quarters of a century ago, the Space Age began with a series of government programs to demonstrate our ability to live and work off of the earth’s surface. By the end of the 20th century, major national geostationary communications satellite networks were privatized, and not long after, we saw the emergence of new privately-funded launchers and satellites. The past decade has brought an explosion of new space ventures with ambitions reaching to the moon and beyond.
MIT has been a key player in space from the very beginning. Our guidance systems sent Apollo to the moon in vehicles made from new materials developed at MIT using computers designed in our labs. Today, our graduates populate both the traditional government space and the rapidly expanding private “New Space” industries in key roles, and our innovation ecosystem includes a proliferation of New Space startups with more emerging every year.
Please join us on April 20th for Space Tech @MIT and April 22nd for our Members Only Roundtable to get an experts’ perspective on the systems and technologies being developed at MIT today that will enable the next decades of industrial space development!
Ron Spangler joined the Office of Corporate Relations (OCR) in October 2013 as Senior Industrial Liaison Officer.
Spangler comes to OCR with many years of experience in business development, portfolio management, product development, and strategy. For the past thirteen years, he has been at TIAX as Director, Government Business Development where he has been responsible for new technology-based business development, with emphasis on products and services in energy and defense. Prior to that, he was at Milde Technology Corporation, an MIT spinoff, as Vice President, Marketing and Business Development. Spangler has also held positions at Cymer, Inc. as Director, Product Marketing, Emerging Technologies and Applications and as Director, Semiconductor Applications; at Active Control eXperts, Inc. as General Manager, Sports Equipment Business Unit and as Engineering Manager, Vibration and Motion Control Business Unit; and at Litton Industries, Itek Optical Systems Division, as Senior Electrical Engineer.
Spangler earned his S.B., Aeronautics and Astronautics, his S.M., Aeronautics and Astronautics, and and his Ph.D from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics here at MIT. He was also a member of the MIT Rugby Football Club, Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, and General Manager of WMBR-FM.
Spangler has many publications and patents to his credit and is an FAA licensed pilot with a glider rating.
Kerri Cahoy is an Associate Professor of AeroAstro at MIT. Cahoy received a B.S. in electrical engineering from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA, in 2000, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA, in 2002 and 2008, respectively. Cahoy currently is the Co-Director of the Small Satellite Center, and leads the Space Telecommunications, Astronomy, and Radiation (STAR) Laboratory. Cahoy's research focuses include nanosatellite atmospheric sensing, optical communications, and exoplanet technology demonstration missions.
We can use small satellites to test how well new ideas and cutting-edge technologies perform on-orbit within months, not decades, at a cost low enough that risks can be tolerated. The small satellites themselves often take a starring role in these dynamic demonstrations, with their coordinated actions among multiple agents. Current projects are inspired by optical communication, imaging, actuation, and on-orbit assembly. Innovative beam steering approaches are compared, using MEMS, liquid lenses, and shape memory alloy actuators. On-orbit laser beam steering can even help large ground telescopes see dimmer objects, opening up the possibility of finding new exoplanet worlds, or pressing further back in time to understand the evolution of our Universe. And now that we are sold on the promise of small satellites, why not use robots to precisely assemble them on orbit and skip the expensive traditional ground-based build-and-test process?
Richard Linares is the Co-Director of the Space Systems Laboratory at MIT and holds a Charles Stark Draper Assistant Professor position at MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Richard Linares joined the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics in July of 2018. Before joining MIT, he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota’s Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics Department. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering from the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. He was a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory and also held a postdoctoral associate appointment at the United States Naval Observatory. His research areas are astrodynamics, estimation and controls, satellite guidance and navigation, space situational awareness, and space traffic management. Richard Linares is a recipient of the AFOSR Young Investigator Research Program Award in 2018 and the DARPA Young Faculty Award in 2020.
Space flight is entering a period of a renaissance with considerable change in the perception of what humanity’s role in space will be. Recently, SpaceX and OneWeb have proposed mega satellite constellations of up to 4,425 satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which will more than double the number of satellites currently in LEO. These constellations have the potential to revolutionize the telecommunication industry by providing complete global internet coverage. The economic gains of completely connecting rural areas and developing nations cannot be understated, however, the current space infrastructure is not capable of handling such a dramatic increase in the number of active satellites. Therefore, there is a critical need for new solutions to the problem of Space Traffic Management (STM) and Space Situational Awareness (SSA).
Conversely, the technologies that are revolutionizing near-Earth spaceflight will provide new opportunities for deep space exploration. Future science-driven interplanetary missions and/or missions to Lagrangian points and asteroids will require advanced guidance and navigation algorithms that are able to adapt to more demanding mission requirements. For example, future missions to asteroids and comets will require that the spacecraft be able to autonomously navigate in uncertain dynamical environments by executing a precise sequence of maneuvers (e.g. hovering, landing, touch-and-go) based on information collected during the close-proximity operations. These missions will require approaches for landing at selected locations with pinpoint accuracy while autonomously flying fuel-efficient trajectories.
This presentation will discuss new methods for enabling STM and autonomous space systems. In particular, this presentation will discuss a new method for assessment of confidence in position knowledge through improved satellite drag modeling, which is critical for STM. This presentation will also discuss novel methods for accurate upper atmospheric density estimation and uncertainty quantification. Furthermore, autonomous space systems and robotic systems can offer new ways of exploring our solar system. Current research on autonomous space systems will also be discussed. Finally, this presentation will provide a vision for the basic research that is needed to enable the future of spaceflight and space exploration.
Ariel Ekblaw is the founder and Director of the MIT Space Exploration Initiative, a team of over 50 graduate students, staff, and faculty actively prototyping the artifacts of our sci-fi space future. Founded in 2016, the Initiative includes a portfolio of 40+ research projects focused on life in space, and supports an accelerator-like R&D program for payload development and flight testing across MIT. For the Initiative, Ariel drives space-related research across science, engineering, art, and design, and charters an annually recurring cadence of parabolic flights, sub-orbital, and orbital launch opportunities. Ariel graduated with a B.S. in Physics, Mathematics and Philosophy from Yale University and defended her MIT PhD in autonomously self-assembling space architecture for future habitats and space stations in orbit around the Earth, Moon, and Mars. Ariel’s work has been featured in WIRED (March 2020 cover story), MIT Technology Review, Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, the BBC, CNN, NPR, IEEE and AIAA proceedings, and more. Humanity stands on the cusp of interplanetary civilization and space is our next, grand frontier. This opportunity to design our interplanetary lives beckons to us—Ariel strives to bring our space exploration future to life.
This talk will present the current portfolio of the MIT Space Exploration Initiative, including a sneak-peek of our Q4 2021 ISS mission and highlights on our emerging lunar surface exploration activities and policy development.
Weston Marlow is the CTO of Analytical Space -- a New Space startup based at MIT's The Engine in Cambridge, MA working to solve the space data delivery bottleneck. From getting an early degree in Fine Art, Weston found his way to Aerospace Engineering and cut his teeth at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in the experimental propulsion group. Later, at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Weston oversaw the AI&T of the NASA LLCD ground terminal, worked on several advanced cubesat missions, and attained his master's in aerospace engineering from MIT. After leaving Lincoln Laboratory, he joined ASI as their senior systems integration engineer and pursued the start of his PhD at MIT in Space Systems Engineering. Weston now leads the technical team that creates the new space technology that will help deliver more data from space faster, and occasionally dabbles back in art.
Natalya Bailey is the CTO and co-founder of Accion Systems, a company providing in-space propulsion for spacecraft. An Oregon native, Natalya moved to Cambridge to complete her doctorate in space propulsion at MIT with a focus on a novel ion engine technology. Prior to MIT, she researched a new chemical rocket technology during her MS at Duke University. She is a partner at XFactor Ventures, investing in female-founded companies, and is on the board of Youth CITIES, a non-profit that teaches entrepreneurship and STEM skills to diverse youth cohorts. In her free time she enjoys traveling to Maine with her husband and three children and completing Python katas on Codewars.
Rei served in the Israeli Air Force for ten years, managing R&D projects and cross-branch operations. He is passionate about developing technologies that change lives, and transforming seemingly crazy ideas into reality. Rei enjoys food — both cooking and eating, music and being in warm places. He holds a BA in economics from Ben Gurion University, an MBA from the MIT Sloan, and a Master in Public Administration from Harvard JFK School of Government.
Blair DeWitt is the CEO and Co-Founder of Lunar Station Corporation. The company that has created a lunar intelligence platform called MoonHacker™. MoonHacker™ helps organizations have the best outcome for missions on the Moon.
Blair, while earning his master’s at MIT, joined the student led Astropreneur and Space Industry Club. He was part of the team that created and organized the first annual MIT New Space Age Conference. As a matter of fact, this year’s event just happened last week.
Blair is committed to the betterment of the community through volunteerism. He led the Architecture and Concepts Working Group at the Moon Village Association, a European Space Agency led industry and research non-profit association.
Something most people don’t know about Blair is that he is an experienced horseback rider. Blair has volunteered his expertise by teaching special needs children how to ride horses and helped train the Massachusetts State Police Horses for their mounted division.
Bruce Cameron is the Director of the System Architecture Group at MIT, where he has taught technology strategy and system architecture at the Sloan School of Management and in the School of Engineering at MIT for a decade. He is a co-founder of Technology Strategy Partners, a consultancy. He has been a board member at 10 early stage firms from medical devices and online platforms, and is a past board member of the University of Toronto.
Satellite communications is undergoing more change in the next couple years than in the previous couple decades, driven by two key trends : changing services to smaller city-sized beams, and market entry of LEO constellations. We will explore what opportunities and challenges these new services present from an operator perspective, focused on the key of how to manage services dynamically. Additionally, we’ll provide a brief overview of the market landscape in LEO with the latest MIT analysis on SpaceX Starlink, OneWeb, Telesat, and Amazon Kuiper.
Professor Danielle Wood serves as an Assistant Professor in Media Arts & Sciences and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Within the MIT Media Lab, Prof. Wood leads the Space Enabled Research Group which seeks to advance justice in Earth's complex systems using designs enabled by space. Prof. Wood is a scholar of societal development with a background that includes satellite design, earth science applications, systems engineering, and technology policy. In her research, Prof. Wood applies these skills to design innovative systems that harness space technology to address development challenges around the world. Prior to serving as faculty at MIT, Professor Wood held positions at NASA Headquarters, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Aerospace Corporation, Johns Hopkins University, and the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs. Prof. Wood studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she earned a PhD in engineering systems, SM in aeronautics and astronautics, SM in technology policy, and SB in aerospace engineering.
The presentation will present the work of the Space Enabled Research Group at the MIT Media Lab. The mission of the Space Enabled Research Group is to advance justice in Earth’s complex systems using designs enabled by space. Our message is that six types of space technology are supporting societal needs, as defined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These six technologies include satellite earth observation, satellite communication, satellite positioning, microgravity research, technology transfer, and the infrastructure related to space research and education. While much good work has been done, barriers remain that limit the application of space technology as a tool for sustainable development. The Space Enabled Research Group works to increase the opportunities to apply space technology in support of the Sustainable Development Goals and to support space sustainability. Our research applies six methods, including design thinking, art, social science, complex systems, satellite engineering and data science. We pursue our work by collaborating with development leaders who represent multilateral organizations, national and local governments, non-profits and entrepreneurial firms to identify opportunities to apply space technology in their work. We strive to enable a more just future in which every community can easily and affordably apply space technology. The work toward our mission covers three themes: 1) Research to apply existing space technology to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; 2) Research to design space systems that are accessible and sustainable; and 3) Research to study the relationship between technology design and justice. The presentation will give examples of research projects within each of these themes.
Dr. Farzana Khatri is a Senior Staff Member in the Optical Communication Technology group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, MA. She is currently the Lead System Engineer and Operations Lead for the lasercom links for NASA’s Laser Enhanced Mission Communications and Navigation Operational Service (LEMNOS) program. She was a key player in the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) project, a first-of-its-kind, record-breaking Moon to Earth free space laser communication system demo. Her roles in the LLCD project have included system engineering, test bed design, system /subsystem /spacecraft I&T, and operations. Before coming to Lincoln in 2002, Farzana worked at AT&T/Tyco Submarine Systems and at Sycamore Networks. She received the S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT in 1990, 1992, and 1996.
MIT Lincoln Laboratory has been working on space-based laser communications research for over two decades. Traditionally, communications between the Earth and space has relied on radio frequency (rf) systems, which have been in use since the Apollo era when the Internet did not exist. As humans venture deeper into space, laser communications will be a key enabler to support high bandwidth bi-directional communications links required for space habitats. This talk will describe past and upcoming lasercom missions.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Air Force Contract No. FA8702-15-D-0001. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.