What’s is your favorite part about working on the WorldView-2 program?
The WoldView-2 team has been together since QuikScat and early QuickBird days, or in the 1996 to 1998 time frame. I’ve been lucky to work programs from beginning to end and work with some of these groups of people multiple times, for long periods of time. Getting to do this work with a lot of the same people has been an honor and a treat. We’ve also been able to develop a relationship and level of trust with our customer that is unique.
Once on orbit, WorldView-2 will be the third imaging satellite Ball has built for DigitalGlobe. What do you think when you see all the images from the satellites you’ve helped build appear in the media?
It’s terrific to know that very time I watch the news and see DigitalGlobe’s logo that I had some responsibility for providing the images that are both valuable and stunning. With the third satellite soon to be on orbit, we’ll have images being returned from the first constellation of remote sensing satellites.
How did you end up working in the aerospace industry?
It was kind of an accident. I got my bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Montana State and went to work for IBM as a chemical process engineer. I soon discovered that I didn’t really care for the work, so I went back to school and got a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois. With my educational background, my original plan was to go the medical route. Instead, I ended up working antennas for the Harris Corporation in Florida. But I’m more of a Midwest guy, so after three years I started looking around and Boulder and Ball were the perfect fit. My first assignment was on the Relay Mirror Experiment and now its 23 years later.
What’s the most exciting part of your job?
The most exciting moment for me is the launch. I’ve always been on the launch side rather than the operational side and the whole “release” process is really compelling. You spend three or four years working on a satellite and then within a few minutes it’s gone. It’s exhilarating.
What do you do in your spare time?
My wife and I have two teenage boys so we don’t have a lot of spare time. But we love to cook, camp, and hike and especially travel. We’re going to Europe soon to tour around England, Ireland and Scotland and then it’s off to the Bahamas for a week.
Who inspired you?
My parents were very inspirational. My dad was a college dean in veterinary medicine, my mother has a master’s degree in dietetics, and my grandmother has a master’s degree in math. So around my house you weren’t asked if you were going to college, you talked about what you planned to study “when” you went to college. I basically grew up in married student housing so there was a strong educational component in my home that was very inspirational.
What would you still like to achieve?
I’d definitely like to get a couple more satellites up for Ball, then pay off my house and retire.
What’s one thing we don’t know about you?
I am inveterate popular fiction reader. I’ve always got three or four books going at the same time. I like to travel and take international cooking classes. Also, I keep track of where WorldView-1 is in the sky and jump in my hot tub in the back yard and watch for it to go over. I’m a geek that way.