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 learnt and things they’d create if there were no technological limitations.
Meet Lucas Cittá, Small SatCom Product Manager here at ReOrbit, whose 15 year-long career path in the space industry (and counting) takes roots in radio-frequency engineering. Lucas talks about the importance of soft skills, working as a team and never taking knowledge for granted, as well as the reasons why technological limitations will always be an engineer’s best friend.
Why did you choose space
Initially I chose to dive into radio-frequency (RF) engineering back in university. There was one specific lecture taught by a professor with an impressive experience who sort of helped me discover another world outside of traditional electronics. I was simply amazed to find out how things worked in that domain; and it just shows, yet again, the importance of having great teachers in one’s life. Entering the industry, I quickly realized that at the time the closest thing to practise RF engineering was Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) / Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). This is how a chain of events set in motion in university led me to space.
You started your career as
And so, I started working as EMI/EMC, making sure that electronics on board a satellite coexisted well from the electromagnetic point of view. I conducted a lot of tests and had a big learning curve involving different ways to mitigate issues. That was fascinating and very close to what I had initially envisioned for my career. Then, I moved to RF telecommunications, which was going back to the roots of what I had exactly been studying in university. It was truly a mind-blowing chance to work on telecoms in space, probably the most mature of space applications.
A bit more than a year ago, I started my journey with ReOrbit as Payload Product Manager, and that is a story of its own which I enjoy to this very day, and hope it continues.
Your most memorable memory so far
Finding a mentor at work, although the realization of the importance kicked in years later. And also, something that was symbolic and marked the moment was a satellite launch that coincided with my birthday. Obviously, it hadn’t been planned like that to start with, but a few delays on the way served a purpose of making that birthday of mine a very special one.
Your most valuable lesson so far
You need to find your way, and there is always something new, different, unknown and not yet discovered to learn. Don’t take what you know for granted; otherwise, you will stay far behind.
What nobody prepared you for
How to deal with people. From the technical perspective of what your work tasks might entail, you get some preparation and, if you’re lucky, you meet good mentors along the way. But learning how to communicate and deal with people is something you figure out on your own. In my current position, to understand what our customers want, to translate that into valuable solutions and to negotiate are critically important. I was never taught soft skills in university, so I had to take a crash course to acquire them.
The one thing that makes you smile
Well, there are many, but here are two examples. First, discovering something new, solving small issues, making things work despite some obstacles. Second, seeing my colleagues embodying a sense of team spirit and bringing new ideas and new lessons to the table, which ultimately allows me to learn something new as well. Working as a team is of great importance for me, as well as sharing knowledge and inspiration.
Imagine there are no technological limitations, what do you wish you could design/create in the space sector
Now, if there are no technological limitations, engineering would make absolutely no sense. It wouldn’t be needed at all. Engineering is all about solving problems and overcoming obstacles / limitations that exist at the time we’re living in this world. If there are no technological limitations, we could very well make all inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci a reality and live happily ever after. To take it even further, I’d wager technological limitations are a prerequisite for an engineer.
Yet, there is something I would like to accomplish – to build a communications satellite from scratch. I’ve been already designing amplifiers and other detailed parts of a satellite. Now, at this stage of my career, it’s about time I tackled the complexity of building a satellite in its entirety. And I’m happy this is exactly what we are doing with the ReOrbit team – branching out into exciting projects for our Small Communications Satellites.