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    Dozens of space and satellite industry professionals and friends gathered at Barrel & Bushel for a relaxing social, catching up on what everyone did over the Summer, and preparing for a new season.



    Delicious hors d'oeuvres and a variety of wine, beer, and mead were served as guests took in some of the remaining warm weather of the year.









    Insulated travel mug giveaways, courtesy our sponsor, SpaceX.









    It was a great time had by all, with many thanks to our co-sponsor SpaceX.

    We'll see you all at the next one!   

     September 27, 2018
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    On June 7th, 2018, just before the Washington area tuned its eyes to the Capitals winning their first Stanley Cup,  space and satellite professionals in D.C. focused on another topic almost as interesting. SSPI Mid-Atlantic produced another fascinating discussion at World Resources Institute in downtown D.C. 

    Sponsored by Secure World Foundation and Planet, SSPI members, friends, and students delved into a back and forth on Earth Observation (EO) satellites and data utilization. Participants discussed how EO data is used to make critical decisions, detailing the information chain from satellites, to ground systems, to analysis, to policy, to action.


    Private EO satellite manufacturer and service provider Planet's VP Government and Regulatory Affairs, Rich Leshner, discussed how Planet is involved with optical imagery, showcasing how their data is relevant to the Secure World Foundation 17 "Sustainable Development Goals” to "support economic growth, improve social inclusion, and advance environmental protection." He highlighted how vital partnerships and cooperation between government organizations and the private sector were, especially as it relates to the need for smooth integration of commercial data and open-source data from government entities such as USGS. 

    Steven Brumby, Co-Founder and Chief Science Advisor from Descartes Labs, lauded the advances in EO technology and the enormous increase in the amount of data that satellites can provide. But he emphasized that policy-makers are not looking for more pixels, but are looking for answers to their questions.  Descartes Labs gathers, scrubs, and calibrates data from multiple satellite imagery sources, both commercial and public. Combining these data with advanced AI software, their goal is eventually to provide continued updated real-time maps of the world, serving as real-time intelligence for multiple sectors such as manufacturing, transportation, forestry, agriculture, and energy.


    Anne Hale Miglarese, Founder and CEO of the non-profit Radiant Earth spoke to the mission of using EO data to do field searches for various companies and NGOs. Stressing the need for open data, open standards, open source code, and open innovation, she gave examples of how their data sets were used to target specific remote villages in Nigeria that could benefit from the distribution of 3.3 million mosquito bed nets. 


    The EO industry has enjoyed an explosive growth in technological capabilities: From the design of increasingly-advanced satellites, to rapid deployment via new and entrepreneurial launch providers, to an exponential growth in the amount of data collected and transmitted, and now to creative ways to integrate and analyze these data from multiple sources. However, for the true promise of satellite-delivered imagery to be realized, these technical advances still need to be matched to the needs of their audiences. They must take into account the various end-users' ability to easily access and make sense of these data to address their specific commercial and humanitarian missions.  Helping governments, NGOs, and the private sector actually act on this intelligence should always be the primary focus of these visionary services providers.


    SSPI Mid-Atlantic is proud to provide opportunities for industry, students, and thought leaders to share in the advancement of the space and satellite sectors. This was another fascinating and fun gathering to keep us looking forward as our industries go through rapid changes (and yes, we had plenty of time to watch the Stanley Cup after!).


    Please join us for our next panel discussion or social event!


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    On April 21st, SSPI Mid-Atlantic presented the Seventh Annual Engineering Student Prize Competition, showcasing the hard work, creativity, and vision of the next generation of satellite and aerospace professionals. The event was hosted at Intelsat's Tysons Corner headquarters, with refreshments provided by Hunter Communications. Students from George Mason University, the University of Maryland, and George Washington University presented ten academic engineering projects covering a wide range of research topics to a panel of space and satellite industry professionals. Awards in three categories were presented, with each award including $1,000 in scholarship money to help the recipients advance their respective studies.

    For example, Jonathan Kolbeck of George Washington University (pictured left, with SSPI-MA's Charity Weeden) was recognized as Most Effective Presentation for his presentation on "Development of GW’s Micro-Cathode Arc Thruster: A Year in Review." Students at GW have been developing practical electric “micro-thrusters” for cubesat-class spacecraft. Kolbeck detailed his efforts to increase thruster power, something that would allow cubesats to be used beyond earth orbit. 

    The award for Originality and Innovation went to the University of Maryland's Melissa Adams (below, right) for her project "Development of a Mobile Platform to Demonstrate the ICE-PIC End-effector for Icy Moon Exploration." Adams has been developing the mechanical understanding to create a robot which can travel across the surface of deeply cold extraterrestrial bodies such as Jupiter’s moon Europa.  Her project focused on optimum number and design of the "legs" and "feet" for the robot, and she is beginning laboratory experiments to verify her analysis.

    Also from the University of Maryland, Jackson Shannon (below, left) received recognition for Experimental Method, regarding his project "Preliminary Validation and Simulation of the STRATA-1 Microgravity Granular Segregation Experiment." Shannon used data gathered from an active collaborative experiment on the International Space Station, STRATA-1. He has been working to develop a mathematical model which predicts the distribution of irregular particles in zero gravity when subjected to various vibrations experienced on the ISS.  The resulting model can help us understand how various sized particles form together to create objects such as asteroids, comets, moons, and planets.




    For the second year in a row, SSPI-MA added a Job Fair/Industry Networking portion to the event. Companies such as SES, OneWeb, Ultisat, and DRS discussed employment and internship opportunities with students in attendance, expanding opportunities for the next generation of space and satellite industry visionaries.   




    The Annual Scholarship Competition offers local students the visibility, the vital feedback, and crucial financial assistance to further their careers as they begin their journey to positively affect the space and satellite industries. With help from our members, sponsors, and participants in our regular events, SSPI-MA is proud to take an active role in advancing the prospects for the next generation of industry leaders.

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    On March 15th, at the DC offices of SES, SSPI Mid-Atlantic and NASA joined forces to present fascinating and educational event with Dr. Michael A. Meyer, Lead Scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program.  More than 50 people attended the presentation, one of the largest for such an educational event, and were treated to a description of the groundbreaking technology of current and future Mars missions, as well as the discoveries made by current Mars programs.


     Dr. Meyer covered many of the NASA programs, such as the Curiosity Rover and InSight Lander, that provided NASA scientists  with much of what they know now about the red planet. For instance,  the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter provided the first real evidence that  liquid water actually flows on Mars today, citing the existence of "recurring slope linea," dark streaks that form in late spring, grow in the summer and disappear by fall. This provides crucial background on the planet's geological history, and evidence to consider on the possibility of some kind of life on Mars.

    Dr. Meyer was a an engaging and extremely knowledgeable speaker, fielding questions for more than an hour from the lively audience on current and future Mars missions. The NASA team was incredibly gracious and brought a fair amount of "swag" for participants to take home. 

    Mars exploration continues to capture the imagination and drive new discoveries. Stunning missions such as Curiosity, Spirit, and Opportunity, the latest InSight lander, and a flotilla of orbital platforms are pushing outward against the boundaries of what we know and can learn from the red planet. SSPI Mid-Atlantic is eager to continue to host more events from NASA scientist to familiarize our guests about the current and developing science, what tools are being used, what new missions are being planned, and -- perhaps most importantly -- the implications for Mars itself.

    SSPI-MA is truly grateful to Dr. Meyer, NASA, SES, and all our guests for making this a memorable evening!

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    On October 18th, SSPI Mid-Atlantic and George Washington University's Micropropulsion and Nanotechnology Labratory (MpNL) in DC hosted an illuminating event that showcased GWU's active involvement in furthering CubeSat technology. The networking event, presentation, and tour of MpNL's laboratory attracted more than sixty participants, including many STEM-focused university students, industry professionals, and esteemed members of academia. 

    After refreshments and a networking session, the founder of the MpNL, Dr. Michael Keidar, welcomed the audience, and introduced them to work being done via GWU's micropropulsion program. He highlighted GWU's engagement with NASA via the recently launched CANYVAL-X satellite. Launched by ISRO in January 2018, CANYVAL-X is a technology demonstration CubeSat mission meant to validate technologies that can maintain flight formation of two separated CubeSats along an inertial line-of-sight. Collaborating with South Korea's Yonsei University and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) who provided the 1U and 2U CubeSat spacecraft, GWU 's lab developed the µCAT (micro Cathode Arc Thruster) system analog electronics and control design, and also delivered the µCAT thruster heads. 


     After the presentation, guests were able to tour the facility and see first-hand the new technology that MpNL is working on. The GW lab is currently working on building its first CubeSat, a 3U spacecraft that has been selected as part of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) program. 


    While attendees became more familiar with the technical challenges of developing new CubeSat technologies, they also learned that many of those challenges are more "earthbound" pocketbook issues. When queried on the biggest challenge in building GWU's CubeSat, PhD candidate Jonathan Kolbeck (one of the winners of SSPI-MA's 2018 Student Scholarship Competition) replied "One of the biggest challenges we have had so far is actually to find funding and investors." 

    This is where SSPI and our members come in. The CubeSat event was a great opportunity for students and industry leaders to interact, ask questions, learn, and get a closeup view of the state of the art lab facilities in Foggy Bottom. But it also highlighted SSPI Mid-Atlantic's commitment to engage with the next generation of satellite professionals, enable networking opportunities for them and space industry leaders, and provide financial assistance to advance the future influencers of our industry. SSPI-MA knows that there is great synergy when combining the talent being developed at local universities with established industry and government professionals. We will continue to leverage events like this for student outreach.

    Keynote speaker Dr. Michael Keidar founded the Micro-propulsion and Nanotechnology Laboratory in 2007 to focus mainly in three plasma-related applications: Propulsion, Nanotechnology, and Biomedicine


    This was also made possible through the generous funding by our corporate sponsors: 

    Thales USA,
    Capitol Meteorologics,

    and the National Capital Area Section of the AIAA.


    We are eager to start on our next event, and would strongly encourage your company to consider sponsorship opportunities to help expand our members knowledge base, networking, and recruiting of tomorrow's space and satellite industry leaders.











    Learn More About It: GWU's CubeSat Program

    The CANYVAL-X Satellite Program:

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    Golfers, start your engines...












     It was simply a beautiful day on the course...
    definitely made up for the original, rained-out date in May.











    Golf—not to mention our industry—is all about teamwork. 







































    Trophies, prize winnings, assorted "swag" for raffle-winners at the post-tourney dinner.


















    Many thanks to our event sponsors, who along with our players made this all possible: 

    • Mintz Levin 
    • SES Government Solutions 
    • Hughes 
    • UltiSat 
    • Artel LLC
    • Tampa Microwave 
    • Capitol Meteorologics 
    • Inmarsat Government 
    • XTAR  
    • Newtec America

     September 25, 2018
  • N/A posted an article

    On October 22nd, more than 40 SSPI members, their guests, and families were...

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    On October 22nd, more than 40 SSPI members, their guests, and families were granted a private tour of a hidden gem in the Baltimore/DC area collection of specialized museums and historical sites: The National Electronics Museum. Located in Linthicum Maryland, not far from BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, the National Electronics Museum offers visitors access to the electronic marvels that have helped to shape—and defend—our nation and the world. The museum provides hands-on displays and antique electronics that cover the history of electronic communications, reconnaissance, and weaponry. We even enjoyed the recently opened exhibit "Satellites: Transforming Our Lives." The event and happy hour reception was co-hosted by SSPI Mid-Atlantic and Inmarsat.


    Our tour guide was Michael Simons, who gave detailed background info on much of the exhibited tech. We saw the Westinghouse Lunar TV Camera carried on Apollo 11 (shown at left) that brought images of the first manned mission to the Moon to back to TVs around the globe.

    Simons even gave an interesting backstory as to why the Westinghouse TV crew called themselves the "FURCAT" team. The "-RCAT" referred to their rival RCA-TV, which was also vying for the NASA camera contract.

    The "FU-" prefix is ...  perhaps self-explanatory.



    Simons also explained how the sudden end to World War 2 resulted in an unexpected surplus in magnetrons, which were the heart of the Allies' advanced radar systems used in battle. This surplus led inventors to try to find a new application for these magnetrons, hence the microwave oven industry was born.

    The highlight for many was the tour of the Satellites: Transforming Our Lives exhibit. This was an excellent introduction for students to the technology, types of orbits, launch vehicles, and satellite applications, and a reminder to the SSPI members why we were drawn to this industry.


    The National Electronic Museum is truly a find in the DC Metropolitan area, an inexpensive side trip for kids and adults to expand their knowledge of the history and evolving technologies in the satellite industry. They also book school special activities and personalized learning for individual schools or groups of school-age children with lots of hands-on activities for students looking to get involved in STEM studies. Find out more at, or contact them directly about personalized tours at 410-765-0230 or email







    Left: Guests were thrown "under the bus." -- The Boeing 702SP Bus, to be exact.




    (Article and Photos: Brendan Murray, SSPI-Mid Atlantic)

  • Brendan Murray posted an article

    On November 16th, SSPI-MA conducted a successful gathering of satellite professionals, offering their thoughts...

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    On November 16th, SSPI-MA conducted a successful gathering of satellite professionals, offering their thoughts and ideas on the status of diversity in the satellite community.


    With the guidance of Andy Steinem, CEO of Dahl-Morrow, a robust discussion was had with both guest panelists and attendees, sharing personal experiences of barriers encountered and how they were dealt with, discussion of the long road until full gender and racial inclusion, and how Human Resources executives are recognizing the larger talent base available to them. The event finished with recommendations from panelists on what we all can do to ensure diversity in the workplace.







    We would like to thank the moderator and panelists for a fascinating discussion, with gratitude to Hunter Communications for providing refreshments for the event, and to SIA for hosting.


    Heidi Dillard, Head of Human Resources and Facilities, OneWeb
    Mary Frost, former CEO, Globecast
    Lori Garver, General Manager, Air Line Pilots Association International
    Vicki Warker – CMO, Savi Technology and former VP Marketing, O3B






























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    SSPI Members, family, and friends said hello to Autumn ... and goodbye to a DC landmark: RFK Stadium. 





    On September 23rd, 2017,  SSPI-MA hosted an industry night with DC United. More than twenty of us reserved Mezzanine-level seats at  RFK for the second-to-last professional sports events at the iconic stadium. Several got the added bonus of participating in the pre-game flag presentation ceremony, shaking hands with the players and walking the pitch for the first and/or last time. A great night was had by all (unfortunately, that includes the San Jose Earthquakes, who bested United 4-0). 



    (Left: View from Mezzanine Level)





    DC United, the four-time MLS Cup Champion and most decorated club in American soccer, made RFK Stadium its home for more than twenty years. The stadium is a throwback to the old generic-design "multi-use facilities" that proliferated from the 1950's through the 1980's.  Although rustic and falling into disrepair of late due to limited use, RFK is cherished by native Washingtonians for generations as the home of United, the Redskins, Senators, and Nationals. Many historic concerts took place at RFK, including sellouts by the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, the Jacksons, and the Grateful Dead. It even hosted several Olympics soccer matches in 1996.                                                               (Right: Pre-game parachutist)













    (Left: SSPI guests participate in pre-game flag ceremony)



     SSPI Mid-Atlantic looks forward to securing seats for an industry night next year at Audi Field, DC United's new state-of-the-art facility in Southwest DC (photo: DC United).


    Photos: Charity Weeden