Asteroid Resource Exploration

Asteroid Resource Exploration

The Asteroid Resource Exploration mission was my primary project at Planetary Resources. Shortly after my start date, I joined a core team of 8 people, serving as the systems engineering representative. I developed the mission Concept of Operations through consulting with internal and external experts in planetary science and trajectory design. We chose a single-launch, multiple-target topology where multiple spacecraft were each tasked with their own asteroid to investigate, as shown in the video above.

As this project became the primary focus for the majority of the company, I stepped up to a Lead Systems Engineer position in the march towards PDR. I helped our team communicate & trust each other using tools such as a documentation plan and an open project structure and meeting minutes. I led and established processes for technical resource management (wet / dry mass, power, link, data, and pointing / momentum) and requirements formulation, while getting my hands dirty with the details (especially in feasibility analysis). A highlight was architecting the data budget simulation to determine the ground network necessary to complete the mission within the project timeframe while accounting for the dynamic geometry of each asteroid with respect to earth over that same timeframe. I took the project from initial objectives to just before PDR.

This project made me to fall in love with the challenges of deep space mission design. It’s a whole new environment (in terms of trajectory/navigation, thermal, momentum control, communication, radiation, etc.), and I’m drawn to its difficulties.