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 Maria Pilar Alliri, Master Thesis Student at ReOrbit, who has been studying space for 5 years and has been deepening her knowledge in propulsion and mission analysis for the past 6 months with us. Maria talks about the roots of her fascination with space, what nobody prepared her for in working life, how a simple addition of ±2π helps it all except for exploring dark matter, which she dreams of contributing to one day.
Why did you choose space
I’ve always thought that space is the area we should look into (and look at) if we want to expand human knowledge. Today, we can claim to be knowing just a tiny bit of the universe, so there is so much more out there to unveil and discover that can potentially benefit humanity in the future.
I grew up with the idea to contribute to space exploration, even if to a small extent; thus, I chose to study aeronautics for my bachelors and later major in space for my masters to figure out how space technology fosters innovation and contributes to a better life on earth.
You started your career as
Since I’m currently finishing my masters, I shall mention my area of studies, which is propulsion and mission analysis. Being fascinated with space and astrophysics, I find them to be a great combo.
I discovered ReOrbit through a connection who works here, who did the same masters and were part of the same rocketry association. At the time, I was searching for a thesis workplace, and ReOrbit caught my attention with its multiple interesting updates on social media, including the news about collaboration with ESA. So, I decided to take my chance and apply to join ReOrbit as a Master Thesis Student. I was particularly interested in broadening my knowledge in mission analysis, without forgetting the holy grail of propulsion, of course. And I can definitely say I’ve managed to solidify my knowledge in both here at ReOrbit.
Your most memorable memory so far
In general, I cherish everything related to space. Say, one thing that comes to my mind is a hot test of the engine at the rocketry association, which I contributed to in terms of design. We saw the engine that lit up, and it was a fascinating and rewarding scene.
Another one that pops into my head is when I was stuck on some code, working on a project here at ReOrbit. It seemed an entangled and super complicated case up until the moment when I discussed it with my line manager (Neha Chohan), and she suggested adding a small detail (±2π). It worked smoothly right away. Sometimes, being caught up in something, you think about a certain issue as grand and complicated, whereas in reality there can be a quick and easy solution. Great thing about working as part of the ReOrbit team is that you can always ask for help, and you get it!
Your most valuable lesson so far
Neha once told me: nobody has an answer to everything. When I just started, I always thought that good engineers are the ones who know what to do in every situation; even if something fails, they always know how to fix it. Now I see it differently – you can pave your way towards an answer, and even if it takes a while, it's fine. Also, that means you never stop learning, which is great.
What nobody prepared you for
Large volumes of documentation that you need to write, while working on a project, to make sure nothing gets lost. Plus, there are long meetings. I’ve made my peace with both things; they’re unavoidable, and you need to get used to having them in your daily working life.
The one thing that makes you smile
In general, it’s the stuff I'm working on. Even if I’m dealing with something that seems abstract or even if I’m struggling with some part of a code, ultimately it will contribute to a spacecraft that will fly one day. At ReOrbit, I have a feeling that what I dreamt of growing up is finally happening: I get to work on tangible projects.
Imagine there are no technological limitations, what do you wish you could design/create in the space sector
Technology for deep space exploration. I wish I could design, for instance, even more advanced telescopes than the James Webb space telescope, to discover distant galaxies, unveil the unknown. I dream of answering more questions of physics, studying black holes, dark matter and other dimensions than time. It might sound futuristic, but I believe this is how the future is connected to the present: you need to pave your way and take small practical steps that eventually will lead you to what you dream to do in the future.