A phenomenal loss to all that knew him, the word that has cropped up the most in the many, many kind condolences we have received from colleagues and co-workers across the space industry about Brian’s passing is “Legend”. And he absolutely was.
Here at In-Space we are very fortunate (and proud) that Brian chose to join us in 2019, bringing his exceptional spacecraft assembly and test expertise, his intuitive engineering flair, and his pragmatic problem-solving abilities to our cleanroom. He had the ability to quickly spot snags before they became bigger issues, and to use his deep experience to come up with unique solutions that avoided a pile-on, a panic, or unnecessary delays. One of his favourite phrases was “Overkill!” used to flag up an over-engineered solution to a simple task – and he should know having worked in engineering for more than 30 years.
When Brian was a young boy he dreamed of being a zoo-keeper or a car mechanic (animals and vehicles became a passion for Brian in his life outside of work), but on leaving school he joined Marconi Defence Systems in Portsmouth as an apprentice, initially working on torpedoes where he learned how to work with complex wiring. He then worked on video phones and inflight entertainment systems before transferring to Matra Marconi Space where he worked on the Skynet 4 spacecraft. He left Matra Marconi Space to join Surrey Satellite Technology to work on the UoSAT 12 satellite which launched in 1999.
Brian worked on many space missions during his long career including Giove-A, the Galileo constellation spacecraft, Eutelsat QUANTUM, the Formosat-7 constellation spacecraft, and RemoveDebris during his time at SSTL, and then on Faraday Phoenix, Prometheus-2 and Titania whilst at In-Space. He also travelled out to launch sites in Russia, Kazakhstan, India and the USA to complete final preparations and testing on spacecraft before integration of the satellites to the launcher.
Brian’s really were a safe pair of hands – a man who could pivot effortlessly from setting up a full end-to-end test campaign for a complete spacecraft to mentoring less experienced engineers through the intricacies of wiring up a flat-sat. He was also the kind of person who was always genuinely happy to lend a hand, no matter how big or how small the challenge – he could be precision-tightening the bolts on a multi-million pound satellite one minute before carrying parcels up the stairs for our admin team the next, or doing odd jobs around the office (often with Ed, our Chief Engineer and Brian’s good friend, as his side-kick – think the Chuckle brothers!). He recently fitted a member of our staff’s car radio outside of work hours just because he could. He always offered, he never complained.
Ed Stevens, Chief Engineer at In-Space and a personal friend says “I feel incredibly proud to call Brian a friend and very lucky to have worked with him for so many years. Something I learned very early on is that if Brian couldn’t fix it then it couldn’t be fixed and in the same way, there’s no replacing such an unflappable, kind and generous man.”
Brian was an early-bird, often being the first to arrive in the mornings. In an industry perhaps more commonly seen to be white-collar, Brian came to work in his metal T shirts and ear plugs and was always just comfortably himself. He wore a Slayer t-shirt for our Christmas jumper day and he drank copious cuppas from his Simpsons mug.
When asked what he liked doing in his spare time for a recent staff profile, Brian simply said “I like spending time with family, I love gardening, taking the dogs for a walk and sitting in a pub garden on a Saturday afternoon with my family.” Brian was kind, unassuming and with a quiet sense of humour, and that’s why everyone loved him – his infectious belly chuckle still rings in our ears.