Welcome to the latest feature in our ‘Day in the life’ series in which Space Systems Engineer Richard Duke reflects on his career and experiences at In-Space Missions.

Richard Duke -Space Systems Engineer - In-Space Missions

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to work for In-Space.

I took my Masters at the University of Surrey and on completion I stayed on and worked on their CubeSats for 6 years where I was involved in many of their first Cube-Sat Missions including the Remove Debris team. I was very much at the forefront of Cube-Sats technology so when the opportunity came to work at In-Space Missions on the commercial side of the small satellites industry, it seemed like a natural fit and a fantastic opportunity.

What made you choose a career in space?

As a child I was inspired by the Mars pathfinder mission, in the 1970s which was designed to demonstrate a low-cost method for delivering a set of science instruments to the Red Planet. I liked the idea of it being low cost compared to the other missions and faster too. Being able to speed up the development of technology and what could then be achieved really appealed to me. I was extremely interested in the Space Shuttle and the engineering side of this rather than the planetary science aspect.

What are the different jobs that take up most of your time in a typical day?

I am responsible for ensuring we have a robust design that works while maintaining the focus on the space system as a whole. The role involves extracting the user’s requirements and the transformation of them into a final product, mission analysis and design of space systems as well as their integration and final verification, including all the needed tests. Testing is the key!

The best part is being able to follow the project from the initial concept design all the way through to operations and I get to work with every aspect of the space craft and to understand all of the technical aspects.

What are the standout moments and highlights since joining In-Space Missions?

Definitely the Launch and Early Orbit (LEOP) simulator is a standout moment for me. This is when we see the satellite not only in its finished state but performing all of the operations that we will see on launch day when it will be in the most critical phase of a mission. (this is when the Spacecraft Operations Engineers take control of the satellite after it separates from the launch vehicle up to the time when the satellite is safely positioned in its final orbit.)

What do you enjoy most about working at In-Space Missions?

Apart from the people and the laughter and shared experiences of working with all the people I would want to work with in the same place! I enjoy being able to really push the boundaries of the worlds technology and open new sets of technology and Industry that the world has not had before. The practical knowledge about how space-crafts work on orbit helps to push the boundaries in terms of what we can achieve in timelines of years and not decades.

The rapid turnaround and affordable access to space that we achieve at In-Space Missions links back to my interest in the Mars pathfinder mission all those years ago.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I love Latin and ballroom dancing.

Article  by In-Space Missions
Date: 20th July 2021