What’s your job at Thales Alenia Space?
I’m in charge of activities concerning space radiation at Thales Alenia Space in Belgium. We recently grouped these activities internationally, in the Quality Assurance department (engineering section).
One distinguishing characteristic of the space market is its very harsh environment, especially concerning radiation.
Radiation can have a major impact on satellite operation. Particles or rays could penetrate a satellite and interfere with its electronics, with effects ranging from a minor disturbance all the way to the shutdown of a vital system.
It’s therefore very important to understand the influence of the space radiation environment on electronics and materials so that we can design reliable satellites at reasonable cost. Underestimating the radiation environment in space entails an excessive risk for satellite manufacturers, since it could lead to degraded performance or even the premature loss of a mission! On the other hand, overestimating this aspect could encourage engineers to “over design” satellite components, resulting in higher cost, greater weight or limited capacity, none of which is desirable.
Understanding how radiation affects electronics and materials is a key to providing an effective response. This is even more important for Thales Alenia Space in Belgium, since we are primarily a supplier of power electronics subsystems, which form the core of the satellite’s power conversion system.
Iridium NEXT © Thales Alenia Space/Master Image Programmes
I have worked on a number of programs, including Iridium® NEXT, ExoMars, Galileo, Ariane 6 and Spacebus NEO.
What makes you proudest in your daily work?
One of the most motivating aspects and a source of pride is being able to develop our talent. Another great source of satisfaction is problem-solving, whether to resolve technological issues or improve our processes.
Is there any special highlight in your career that stands out?
The moments that I remember are when I was able to take on more responsibilities and extend my scope of action. I love to learn and expand my horizons.
For example, I was recently named head of the Radiation team, and this is first time I have been a manager, in charge of my own team.
Furthermore, by taking responsibility for radiation projects and the associated budgets, I assume more responsibility and also have more room for maneuver.
What are the main qualities needed in your profession?
A team spirit, ability to innovate, flexibility.
First artistic view: © Thales Alenia Space/Marchioro