Staying in Command of the Cosmos: Employee Spotlight

Space |

The space and intelligence industry has gone through tremendous change over the last 25 years. Get a behind the scenes look with Space Strategist, Dave, and learn how Peraton has supported humankind’s greatest missions of consequence for decades.

How have you seen the landscape of the space & intelligence industry evolve over your career?

The evolution of the S&I industry has been dramatic over the past 25 years. In the late 1990s, Space & Intel was nearly 100% owned by the major government agencies: NASA, NRO, etc. Over the past 25 years (and arguably only in the past 10), we’ve seen commercial space become the dominant factor in everything from launch vehicles to high resolution, low-latency commercial overhead imagery to human spaceflight itself. With the success of the commercial space industry, we are seeing the government-owned space programs able to focus less on the day-to-day proven approaches in order to focus more on technology development and high risk/high benefit programs overall. But with the increased access to space, we’re also seeing new adversaries emerge. Space is now an information technology domain as much as it is a platform and payload domain. Bottom line, there has never been a more exciting time to be involved in our nation’s space & intelligence programs!

In a rapidly advancing field like space/intel, how does Peraton’s space & intelligence sector stay at the forefront of innovation and technological advancements?

Peraton’s biggest strength is in our strong relationships with our customers and our industry partners. It doesn’t hurt that we also own one of the world’s premiere research laboratories (Peraton Labs). We are in an age where disruptive technologies are changing the industry faster than for which most can keep up. Who would have imagined just five years ago that today we’d have proliferated constellations of commercial satellites – one with over 600 vehicles, the other with over 5,000 (and counting)! Few would have envisioned just a few years ago that high resolution commercial earth imagery would be used daily by the news media — and private citizens – to monitor everything from wildfires to the impacts of natural and human-caused disasters. As a space strategist, I see these guiding principles at play:

  • Commercialization is driving capability development in space more than the government
  • Agility already matters more than technology
  • Applications in space will be more important than unique vehicles or platforms
  • Applications that require “phoning home” to Earth in order to function properly will eventually be replaced with applications that don’t.

The space & intelligence industry is known for its cutting-edge technologies. How does Peraton’s space & intelligence sector ensure the integration of these technologies into its solutions?

Developing the right solution always starts with understanding the problem you’re needing to solve. In many of our programs, we find that the cutting-edge technology that’s needed is often the one that makes the mission more secure, or that allows the mission to cost less to operate, or that increases the data delivery and data processing capability of a system. Related to the previous question, in knowing our customers and knowing their missions, we are able to uniquely map their mission process to identify where the application of cutting-edge or disruptive technologies can provide the best benefit. When the need is there, we have the ability to create and deploy something truly new and innovative for our customers and our partners – and Peraton’s corporate investment in IRAD and our work with Peraton Labs helps us lead the industry.

As the space strategist of the space & intelligence sector, what key initiatives or milestones do you envision for Peraton’s future in this industry?

I’ve made it a personal goal to see Peraton’s name on a rocket fairing as a space mission owner/operator sometime within the next 3-5 years. Smaller satellites mean cheaper satellites, and we’re now in an age where we can build and fly actual spacecraft to solve problems for our customers for the cost of a typical contract task order. Stu Shea (our Chairman and CEO) stated a few years back that “We are not a spacecraft company…yet.” I believe that we now have the ability to combine our expertise and customer knowledge with effective space industry commercial partnerships to start building and flying any number of Peraton-initiated space missions. Our future is in space, no longer in just managing space missions from the ground. As the operating domains expand, our knowledge and experience expands – allowing our customers to continue to use us as their trusted partner in these new and emerging areas. That’s why it’s important to keep our customer and industry relationships as strong as possible.