As a company we are usually on the quieter side of publicity, focusing on building technology that speaks for itself. The Covid-19 lockdown has reminded us to treasure team moments much more, and to spread more joy (and not viruses) to others. We are sharing a series of small, fun posts about our team and a few experiments we have done at Archangel Lightworks. Hope this will be useful for any budding start-up teams out there.
For this month, being the International Women's month, let's hear from our female teammates on their journey at a deep-tech space start-up so far: Diana Mathew (MIET PRINCE2, MPhil Electrical and Electronics Engineering) our project & procurement assistant manager, Simran Mardhani (MSc Satellites Communication) our simulations engineer, Lucy Roberts (BA Geography, University of Sheffield) our business operations manager and Trang Tran (MSc Oxford University)
What led you to the start-up life? Tell us a bit about your journey.
Diana: I had been working in the space sector before I joined Archangel Lightworks and it reached the point where I wanted something a bit more challenging, to allow me more responsibilities, something that would allow me to use the skills I had acquired but at the same time would push me out of my comfort zone. I wasn’t particularly looking to join a start-up, I was a bit sceptical to tell the truth, but after talking to Trang about the opening they had advertised, it felt like a risk worth taking. It's been a great decision for me!
Trang (co-founder): I was working with the team on other projects after graduation and we won this exciting opportunity to build curved, flexible solar panels and a space laser communication gateway at Harwell Space Campus. This project success led to the collaboration with the European Space Agency to build the full architecture and actually launch the terminals into space alongside some pretty cool partners.
Lucy (operations manager): I graduated from University of Sheffield in Summer 2019 and, having studied Geography, I wanted to work for a company that shared my values of using technology to have a positive impact on the world. As my first ‘real’ job I wasn’t sure exactly what area of the business world I wanted to enter, so joining a start-up seemed like a great way to gain exposure and understand how a business works from all angles.
Simran (simulations engineer): My long-term goal has always been to contribute my knowledge of engineering to space studies, with a focus in satellite applications. My journey started with Archangel Lightworks as a summer intern last year, while in parallel I was working on my Master’s project at Surrey. I was looking for an opportunity to work for a satellite/space company with challenging work and a positive work culture. Getting to develop space laser communications with some amazing people every single day here has been really cool! There is a plethora of opportunities to get better in your field of expertise while simultaneously learning something new.
I wanted something that would push me out of my comfort zone
How will your work/ Archangel Lightworks have a positive impact on the world?
Simran: Information in every sector is increasing at a tremendous rate, especially for space. 15% more small satellites are being launched every year*, not only to understand our planet better, but also to communicate with other orbiters to relay data. Archangel Lightworks is developing innovative technologies with the objective of increasing the overall data download from space, much faster and more reliably compared to the current state-of-the-art technology. This alone will support better weather forecast, climate change modelling and disaster response.
Diana: Our solution will also heavily bring down the cost per download of data from space. We envisage this will give more users access to space-based data, making more affordable, new and innovative downstream applications possible in the future.
Trang: For example, downloading the vast data generated by space-borne hyperspectral sensors generated to make smart, precision agriculture accessible to everyone. It’s almost like we’re helping to build the next 5G for space data. Watch this space!
Archangel Lightworks is developing innovative technologies with the objective of increasing the overall data download from space, much faster and more reliably compared to the current state-of-the-art technology.
What would you advise to your younger self?
Trang: I have learnt from the engineers in the team about systems thinking, structured problem solving, and making difficult decisions with tough trade-offs. Because with space technology, often you only have one chance to launch so if anything goes wrong it would be a lot of money wasted.
Lucy: Although I’m only at the beginning of my career, I would tell my younger self to be open to every opportunity and not be afraid to try something different.
Simran: This is also my first exposure to work life, and everyone is encouraged to take ownership of their work and pick up leadership skills, it was a bit challenging but necessary. In general, I would say, do step out of your comfort zone and challenge your abilities.
Diana: I had a very cautious way of doing things. If I could turn back time, I would advise myself to be bolder and try out ideas as the way to innovate forward.