Let's Space It. Bevania de Melo

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11 Jan 2022
5 min read
Let's Space It. Bevania de Melo

Space is arguably both finite and infinite while the universe is expanding, and this evokes ambition, excitement, and puzzlement in humans. Out of which space technology, designed for space exploration, is born. Thus, it is even more interesting to learn the life stories of people behind innovation and technological development.

In this series of articles, we are introducing our colleagues behind ReOrbit technology. What brought them to the industry, their journeys towards humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier, lessons learned, and things they’d create if there were no technological limitations.

Meet Bevania De Melo, Business Development Specialist at ReOrbit. Her journey began with Angola's first space program and has brought her to the dynamic New Space industry. Now, she is building her career and family in Finland, while inspiring the next generation of women to pursue careers in the space industry. Hear Bevania’s story and discover how taking a leap of faith can sometimes lead to unexpected adventures.

Why did you choose space

I’m a very curious person who loves trying new things. I didn’t wake up one day, dreaming of working in the space industry. The main reasons that led me there were curiosity and a suggestion from my late cousin. He saw an announcement that the Angolan Space Program was hiring its first batch of engineers and encouraged me to apply, thinking I’d be a good fit since I had just finished a programming-related course at university and spoke English. I decided to send my CV, passed the exams, and thought, "Why not give it a shot?"

I am the first in my family and among the first in Angola to work in the space industry. It was uncommon for someone from Angola to aspire to work in space, as the industry didn’t exist there yet. I never dreamt of a career in space, but things aligned, and I decided to go for it without overthinking. I had no expectations of making it, but I sent my CV anyway. It was a leap of faith that paid off.

You started your career as

Before jumping into working life, I received a scholarship from the Angolan government to study computer science at the Punjab College of Technical Education. After completing my undergraduate studies, my journey led me to join Angola's first Space Program, where I started as a satellite operator, though the specific area wasn't initially specified. Eventually, due to my skills, knowledge, and background, I was chosen to be a ground control specialist. Later, I pursued a master’s degree in Space Applications and Services at the Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace aka ISAE-SUPAERO, the oldest aerospace university in the world.

Most memorable memory so far

I've been fortunate to experience things that many in this industry may never get to do. I was present for the launch of the first Angolan satellite and being part of the ground operations segment made it incredibly memorable, especially since it was a significant milestone for my home country. Additionally, I've had the opportunity to train with Airbus and visit their clean room facilities twice, which are quite restricted for visitors, making the experience stay in my mind.

Most valuable lesson so far

The most valuable lesson I've learned is the importance of pivoting. This applies not just to the space industry but to life in general. You need to know how to adapt, make do with what you have, and learn from mistakes without dwelling on them. Every successful technology has gone through iterations of failure before reaching success. Reusing existing technologies and theories is crucial. For me, it’s about not crying over spilt milk but figuring out how to turn a failure into a positive outcome. Success isn’t constant, and every failure has something to teach. Surround yourself with experienced people, learn from their mistakes, and use their guidance to make your path less complicated. Experience often provides insights that books and research cannot.

What does nobody prepare you for

Nobody prepared me for the impact of being a black woman in the space industry. I didn’t expect to be in rooms where people didn’t look like me or to be setting a precedent for others from my country. There's a certain responsibility that comes with being a role model, and it's important to keep that in mind. Additionally, nobody prepared me for the complexity of the space industry. Initially, I thought working in space would be like NASA—sending astronauts to space and manufacturing fancy satellites. Coming from Angola, the space industry was not on my radar, so I had to learn its aspects on the job. I didn't know how politically connected and complex the industry is, from buying and selling satellites to security and safety concerns. I thought it would be simpler and didn’t anticipate the political implications of my work.

The one thing you will never forget

I will never forget the feeling I had when I first started working at ReOrbit. Noticing that our team is making an impact in the space industry, especially in Finland, is extremely rewarding. It's not easy to do what we do, with larger players around us, but we've managed to establish a strong presence in the industry making our current endeavours like the UKKO- mission already impressive and unforgettable.

The one thing that makes you smile

I feel very happy when younger girls reach out to me, saying they're finishing school and want to pursue a career in space. Hearing that they look up to me and seek advice makes me smile because it shows I'm being a positive influence on them. I've always wanted to inspire others positively and do meaningful work. Additionally, I feel joy whenever our team overcomes difficult tasks creatively and successfully.

Imagine there are no technological limitations. What do you wish you could design/create in the space sector

If there were no technological limitations, I would design a teleportation device or vehicle that allows us to explore the entire galaxy within a human-viable timeframe. Imagine being able to visit and see everything up close. This device would enable us to answer questions like whether aliens exist and if there are other habitable planets. The same curiosity that brought me to the space industry drives me to satisfy human curiosity and gain a deeper understanding of our galaxy. This teleportation capability would give us access to the vastness of the galaxy and answer some of humanity’s biggest questions.



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