In conversation with Pablo Martinez de Tejeda, Satellite Engineer

My name is Pablo Martinez de Tejeda and my job is satellite engineer at Atheras Analytics.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what what’s your background and what you were doing before you came to work for the company?

My academic background is in aerospace and telecommunications engineering. I had a very good opportunity to pursue two degrees at the same time in Barcelona. I did my thesis with NASA JPL on theory for non-terrestrial networks. Then I worked for almost a year with a software company providing IT support for clients. But I was missing my engineering skills and somewhere technical to apply then, with a space angle as well.  Atheras really meets my job preferences with my backgrounds in space, telecommunications and software.

 

Can you tell me more about your role in the team and what it actually involves?

Yes. So, the main core of my job is to basically run simulations for our clients on their ground station systems and their primary network, combined with the satellites. We help design future ground networks and determine the best locations for them. We analyse the weather effects on Ka- and Q/V bands because it has a huge impact on attenuation on the links.

We help satellite operators decide where they should locate their future ground stations, and how well they will perform, and we also build them an operating system that automatically manages the network. I spend most of my time working on geostationary satellite networks, but we’ve developed the same system for non-geostationary satellites, which is where the industry is going, and it’s been pretty exciting.

What would you say the best part of your job is?

I would say the best part is that we have a chance to help big satellite operators to decide where they’re going to put their ground stations and how they’re going to manage them. We contribute to critical decisions on building this huge infrastructure that is going to potentially provide service to millions of users. We’re helping to create this enormous engineering project with big industry players and it’s really rewarding to be able to provide that help and insight.

Can I just ask you very briefly about trends and challenges that you see within the industry at the moment?

As I said, the main trend in the space industry is non-geostationary satellites and mega satellite constellations such as Starlink and One Web. This satellite engineering infrastructure sounds like science fiction! However, this is where the industry is going.

I think the main challenges will definitely be coordination with different service providers

as working in an NGSO environment is different to a geostationary environment. In GEO, it’s a static environment where the satellite moves with the Earth. This means that the parameters and the geometry doesn’t constantly change over time.

However, with a non-geostationary system, everything moves very quickly. You have to switch users from satellite to satellite and you have to be careful to not generate interference with other satellites. Every country has its own regulations which further complicates matters. I think that’s a tremendous challenge for satellite operators to overcome. And it can only be done with automation and software, because there’s going to be so many satellites and so many users that it will be impossible to do this manually as it’s been done currently with geostationary satellites. This is a challenge that we are helping to overcome.

At Atheras, we also help with weather impairment. New broadband satellite systems operate in Ka- or Q/V bands, that can provide very high throughput. The problem with these systems is that attenuation caused by weather such as clouds or fog means you basically lose the link. If you know in advance when there is going to be an outage, you can switch the link so that the user doesn’t lose the service during that period of time.

Finally, how you see the rest of this year? What your hopes are for the company?

This year, we’ll be focusing on further development of the non-geostationary side of the business so that we can help our clients who are moving in that direction. I hope that we can surf the wave of the New Space industry. We’re very excited!