Rapidly evolving space technology leading government to consider the possibilities
December 18, 2019 10:25 am
2 min read
The last few years have seen a resurgence in widespread interest in space, satellites, and going to Mars. Ten years ago, we never dreamed of people like Elon Musk being on the front page of any newspaper. During the summer, the Metro in Washington, D.C., is full of young people with NASA tee shirts. Some have coined the phrase, “New Space” to describe the current infatuation.
Executives from Maxar, an earth intelligence and space infrastructure company, recently joined Federal News Network to share what’s possible in the field of space technology.
“Our purpose is helping our customers harness the potential of earth intelligence and space infrastructure to transform missions,” said Tony Frazier, executive vice president for Global Field Operations.
In detailing a range of highly technical activities at Maxar, including assistance with developing the arm of the Mars Rover, Frazier explained that the space technology workforce includes more specialties than aerospace engineering.
“We have your rocket scientists, but we have a pretty diverse talent base across the company because to support the missions, we need aerospace engineers and data scientists and software developers and cloud experts,” he said.
Mark Gianconia, director of analytics engineering, started his career as a Green Beret. His military background provides a unique perspective on the impact of satellite imagery to help the warfighter on the ground.
“We have 100 petabytes of imagery, so to put that in perspective, the Library of Congress is roughly three. So, we’re like 30 times the size of the Library of Congress in pixels,” said Gianconia of the amount of image information at his disposal.
Chris Shank, vice president for Civil and National Security Space, spoke of developments in satellite propulsion, which is typically made capable by chemicals. “And what we’re doing is building a service station and refueling capability for a currently on-orbit NASA satellite. We’ll be launching that in the next couple of years,” he said.
This experience led NASA to select Maxar to help with the Artemis program, whose goal is to land the first woman and the next man on the moon.
Another example just to hit on more of a mission use case. I was recently at the AWS re:Invent conference and spoke about how we're applying artificial intelligence to support disaster response missions.
Executive Vice President, Global Field Operations, Maxar
We build software and we do analytics and we deliver imagery and almost everything we do is actually kind of a commercial first model on doing that. So we leverage Open Source; we're heavy contributors to Open Source. We leverage machine learning tools and the cloud.
Senior Director, Analytics Engineering, Maxar
30 out of the 90 satellites currently on orbit today, that we've built, have electric propulsion capabilities on it. And so we're spinning in that technology capability to then go orbit around the Moon as a gateway for that future Artemis landing. And we're working with the NASA team on that.
Chris Shank, Vice President, Civil and National Security Space, Maxar
Executive Vice President, Global Field Operations, Maxar
Tony Frazier joined Maxar in 2017 after its acquisition of DigitalGlobe and serves as our EVP of Global Field Operations. In this role he leads all sales, business development, and services delivery activities for the company outside of the Canadian market. Prior to this role Mr. Frazier served as President of Radiant Solutions. Mr. Frazier served as Senior Vice President, General Manager of DigitalGlobe’s Services business from 2013 and led GeoEye’s Marketing and Communications team since 2010, prior to its acquisition by DigitalGlobe in 2013. Prior to GeoEye, Mr. Frazier served as Senior Director of Product Management at Cisco Systems, where he brought to market emerging technologies core to Cisco’s video and collaboration strategy. Prior to Cisco, Mr. Frazier held senior marketing roles at Infor, iPhrase Technologies an MIT start-up acquired by IBM, and pcOrder.com. Mr. Frazier began his career in strategic consulting at Bain & Company. Mr. Frazier holds a Bachelors of Systems Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA with distinction from Harvard University.
Vice President, Civil and National Security Space, Maxar
As part of the Global Field Operations team, Chris Shank will manage sales, business development, account management and service delivery across Maxar’s civil national security customer base.
Chris previously held various leadership roles in the military, U.S. government and commercial industry for over 25 years. Before joining Maxar, Chris was the Director of the Strategic Capabilities Office at the U.S. Department of Defense. In this role, he led the development of new and innovative ways to shape and counter emerging threats across all domains, bringing unexpected and game-changing capabilities to the Joint Force.
Chris has also held leadership roles at Van Scoyoc Associates, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Honeywell Aerospace, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and NASA. He served as an Officer in the U.S. Air Force for 11 years with assignments at Space Command, National Reconnaissance Office, and Pentagon. Chris holds a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Notre Dame.
Mark Giaconia is Senior Director of Analytics Engineering at Maxar. He served 15 years of his 20 year Army career in the Special Forces; he served in Bosnia, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, and Iraq as a Green Beret Operator. Mark holds two awards for valor from combat actions in Iraq and Kosovo (Bronze Star with "V" and an ARCOM with "V" respectively). He graduated from the toughest military training in the world, such as the Special Forces Qualification Course, Ranger School, Airborne and Jumpmaster School, Mountaineering schools, three different Sniper Schools, ASOT, and many more.
After his postwar intellectual evolution, Mark became a Computer Scientist, CTO, and technology leader, and he is also an accomplished Flamenco Guitarist, impressionist oil painter, woodworker, software engineer and data scientist, and loves studying philosophy.
John Gilroy has been a member of the Washington D.C. technology community for over twenty years. In 2007 he began weekly interviews on Federal News Network called “Federal Tech Talk with John Gilroy.” His 428 interviews provides the basis for profitable referral business. In 2009 he created a successful breakfast club of previous radio guests called The Technology Leadership Roundtable. He has been instrumental in two of his guests forming their own radio shows: Derrick Dortch with “Fed Access” and Aileen Black and Gigi Schumm with “Women in Washington.”
In 2011 he began teaching a course in social media marketing at Georgetown University; in March of 2014, John won the Tropaia Award for Outstanding Faculty. John conducts monthly corporate training for large companies on how to leverage social media to generate revenue.