Keynote Speakers

Chris Singer

Former NASA Deputy Chief Engineer & Marshall Spaceflight Center Engineering Director
Topic: The Engine of Possibility Accelerating Development

Abstract: As the universe expansion accelerates, the exponential pace of information continues to shrink and connect the globe in unexpected ways. New discoveries in physics, biology, geology, at the macro, micro, and nano level create more questions than answers. So, the confounding question in aerospace systems, why does new capability take twice as long to infuse as 25 years ago? While technology and tools are opening the path for new capability, solving this riddle requires a much deeper look in the mirror. Only a learning culture is able to embrace innovation, uncertainty, and boldly face the risk conundrum, while infusing hard-won experiences without over-controlling. Technologies like wireless sensing and power systems, additive manufacturing, structured light scanning and advanced analytical tools are re-shaping the entire product life cycle, from design, analysis, production, verification, and logistics enabling significant increase in performance and reduction (2-10X) in cost and schedule. Maximizing these technologies requires an open environment, able to temper experienced based rules with creativity, and breaking thru our natural human desire for control with the inspiration of possibility.

BiographyChris Singer is recently retired from NASA as its Deputy Chief Engineer, responsible for integrating engineering across the 12 NASA centers. In June 2017, he began independent consulting for Creating Innovative Culture.  From 2011 to 2016, Chris served as Engineering Director at Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.  MSFC Engineering is an organization of 1,400 civil service and 1,200 support contractor employees responsible for the design, testing, evaluation, and operation of hardware and software associated with space transportation, spacecraft systems, science instruments and payloads under development at the Marshall Center. From 2004 to 2011, Chris was deputy director for MSFC Engineering.  Mr. Singer is an AIAA Associate Fellow. In 2006, he received the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executives — the highest honor for career federal employees. He was awarded the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2001 and 2008 for his leadership. In 1989, he received the prestigious Silver Snoopy Award from the Astronaut Corps.


Dr. Fassi Kafyeke

Senior Director, Strategic Technology & Innovation, Bombardier Aerospace
Topic: The Growing Use of Sensors in Business and Commercial Jet Aircraft

Abstract: Bombardier is a manufacturer of planes and trains. In aviation, we develop, produce and support airplanes in the business, regional and commercial market. The presentation will discuss the growing impact of sensors technology on our operations and will discuss also our efforts to understand and document the particular environments into which long range high altitude aircraft typically fly. The use of sensors technology in aviation industry keeps growing, because sensors play a vital role in supplying information during flight. Aircraft safety relies on good operation of all systems, in any environment; and sensors have the major role of supplying vital information to the pilot about the flight. The majority of these sensors today are wired to the computers that perform signal analysis. Weight reductions and added flexibility can be achieved with wireless sensors but this can only be done once the integrity of the communication can be completely assured. Recent progress in data analytics and artificial intelligence has also increased the value of information that sensors located on various parts of the aircraft can provide. This can be used for passenger services, flight operations optimization and predictive maintenance of aircraft. At various altitudes, aircraft can be exposed to cosmic radiations coming from external galaxies above the sun. The exposure of electrical and electronic systems can lead to component failures. To further our understanding of this phenomena, Bombardier is conducting a Cosmic radiations flight measurement campaign, as part of a collaborative project with three Canadian universities and other industrial partners. Although this measurement campaign uses wired radiative Sensors, it is an example of a sensor investigation into the environments in which aircraft typically operates.

Biography: Dr. Fassi Kafyeke has an Aerospace Engineering Master’s degree from Université de Liège, a Master’s degree (Air Transport Engineering) from the Cranfield Institute of Technology and a PhD (Aerodynamics) from École Polytechnique de Montréal. He joined Bombardier in 1982. In 1996 he became Chief of Advanced Aerodynamics, responsible for the design and testing for all Business Jets, Regional jets and the CSeries airliner. In 2007 he became Director of Strategic Technology and since 2015, he is a Senior Director and a member of the Bombardier Product Development Engineering Leadership team, responsible for technology innovation, products innovation and Eco-design.


Dr. Sterling Rooke

Founder Brixon, Inc., & Director-Elect ISA Communications Division (2018-2019)
Topic: Translational Awareness: at the Nexus of Physics and Cyber-in-Space

Abstract: Reliability combined with measurement possibilities highlight ubiquitous wireless sensors as a tantalizing option for total system awareness. However, the ability of sensor systems to translate physical measurements into actionable information becomes even more challenging in extreme environments such as space. While factors such as co-existence in the wireless domain and anomaly rejection, have been presented by others, this presentation focuses on the interplay between physical measurements in an industrial system and cyber as an interlaced consideration. Recently, there was a notional discussion in the United States for creating a 6th military branch that will exclusively focus on the Space Domain, and by extension cyber-in-space itself. Satellites and instruments on orbit well be at the *nexus of physics and cyber-in-space*. Understanding the interplay between physical and cyber sensors is critical for the viability of orbital vehicles of the future.

Biography: Dr. Sterling Rooke is the Founder of Brixon, Inc., and Director-Elect Communications Division (2018-2019) for the International Society for Automation. Brixon is focused on sensor systems that secure key cyber terrain through the fusion of sensor derived physical measurements and information system analytics. Sterling is also the CEO of X8 a government contracting company focused on cybersecurity, and systems engineering. Further, as incoming Director of the ISA Communications Division, Sterling regularly interfaces with a variety of industrial control and automation experts to better standards and best practices. Sterling is active in IEEE, and serves as Chair of the Washington, DC area IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Society Chapter. On a part-time basis, Sterling is an Air Force Reservist and Cyberspace Operations Officer.


Dr. Obadiah Kegege

NEN Development Manager, Exploration & Space Communications Projects Division, NASA /GSFC
Topic: User Needs and Advances in Space Wireless Sensing & Communications

Abstract: Decades of space exploration and technology trends for future missions show the need for new approaches in space/planetary sensor networks, observatories, internetworking, and communications/data delivery to Earth.  The “User Needs” to be discussed in this talk include interviews with several scientists and reviews of mission concepts for the next generation of sensors, observatories, and planetary surface missions.  These sensor nodes or instruments are envisioned to operate in extreme space environments, with advanced autonomy, whereby communication to Earth is intermittent and delayed.  In these scenarios, the sensor nodes would require autonomous networking capabilities in order to learn and adapt to the environment, collect science data, internetwork, and communicate.  Also, some use cases require the level of intelligence to manage network functions (either as a host), mobility, security, and interface data to the physical radio/optical layer.  For instance, on a planetary surface, autonomous sensor nodes would create their own ad-hoc network, with some nodes handling communication capabilities between the wireless sensor networks and orbiting relay satellites.   A section of this talk will cover the advances in space communication and internetworking to support future space missions. NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program continues to evolve with the development of optical communication, a new vision of the integrated network architecture with more capabilities, and the adoption of standardized space internetworking protocols.  Advances in wireless communications hardware and electronics have enabled adaptive (DVB-S2, VCM, ACM, DTN, Ad hoc, etc.) protocols for improved autonomous wireless communication and network management.  Developing technologies to fulfill these user needs for wireless communications, standardized internetworking protocols, and enhanced autonomy will be a huge benefit to future planetary missions, space observatories, and manned missions to other planets.

Biography: Dr. Obadiah Kegege currently serves as the Near Earth Network (NEN) Development Manager in the Exploration and Space Communications Projects Division, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA. Dr. Kegege previously served in the technical management team for the Ocean Color Instrument, part of the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission. Prior to that, Dr. Kegege had several years of research and technology development and worked on a number of projects focusing on the development of communication and navigation systems for space exploration. He has authored/co-authored several publications related to space communication systems and network architectures. He has received a number of NASA awards for his exceptional service. Dr. Kegege obtained his BS in Control and Instrumentation Electronics from the University of Houston, MSEE from the University of Texas Pan American and a PhD from the University of Arkansas. Dr. Kegege is a member of IEEE, SPIE, NSBE, Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society (ISA), and National Technical Association (NTA).


Dr. Panagiotis Tsiotras

College of Engineering Dean’s Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology, Director of the Dynamics and Control Systems Laboratory, School of Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
Topic: The Next Frontier: The Challenges in Developing Truly Autonomous Space Robots

Abstract: Several industry and government organizations are currently considering autonomous and semi-autonomous spacecraft robotic proximity operations as an enabling technology for several future space missions, such as on-orbit spacecraft inspection, surveillance, servicing, interferometry, formation flying, and many others. A crucial element of this technology is its ability to reliably perform autonomous relative pose estimation and tracking for robotic systems in orbit. Despite the tremendous recent advances in the field of ground robotics in terms of perception, learning, and control – mostly fueled by new AI algorithms and innovative computer hardware architectures where there are many difficulties that make similar implementations in a space environment much more challenging. These include, for example, harsh and rapidly changing illumination conditions (especially in LEO), long communication delays that limit human intervention in case of an emergency, severe resource (e.g., fuel, energy) constraints, much higher requirements for fail-safe operation, not to mention the physics themselves (Keplerian laws, momentum conservation constraints). The pace of new research to solve these challenges is hindered by the scarcity of suitable experimental platforms and methods to validate novel theories in a realistic space environment. In this talk, we will look at several aspects of these challenges, and offer some suggestions for potential remedies. We will present some results on spacecraft control under actuator and sensor failures and will focus on vision-based relative pose estimation, a fundamental problem in any robotic system. We will investigate both cooperative and non-cooperative vision-based scenarios, and provide experimental validation results using the 5dof spacecraft simulator facility at Georgia Tech.

Biography: Dr. Tsiotras joined the faculty of the School of Aerospace Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1998 as an Associate Professor. Prior to joining the faculty at Georgia Tech, Dr. Tsiotras was an Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia. He has held visiting appointments with INRIA, Rocquencourt, the Laboratoire de Automatique de Grenoble, and the Ecole des Mines de Paris in France. He has published over 250 journal and conference papers in the areas of astrodynamics, optimal and nonlinear control, and dynamics and control of mechanical and aerospace systems. His current research interests include analysis and control of autonomous and semi-autonomous ground, aerial and space vehicles. Dr. Tsiotras is a recipient of the NSF CAREER award, the Sigma Xi President and Visitor’s Award for Excellence in Research as well as numerous fellowships and scholarships. He is a past Associate Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, of the AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics of the IEEE Control Systems Magazine and of the Dynamics and Control journal (now merged with the Journal of Dynamical and Control Systems). He is a Fellow of the AIAA, and a Senior Member of the IEEE.


Dr. Jim Lyke

Research Program Manager, Space System Branch, Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate, AFRL Fellow
Topic: Energy Consequences of Information as It Relates to Spacecraft and Space Missions

Abstract: A conventional wisdom in the spacecraft is that on-orbit computation is expensive, and as such, information is traditionally funneled to the ground as directly as possible. The explosion of information due to larger sensors, the advancements of Moore’s law, and other considerations lead us to revisit this practice. In this talk, I will consider the trade-off between computation, storage, and transmission is viewed as an energy minimization problem. This work drives us to consider how close we can get to the “Landauer limit” for computation and storage, and we identify the paucity of thermodynamic lower bound estimates for even simple algorithms. We appeal to renewing the long considered possibility of using adiabatic approaches to meet (and transcend) the Landauer limit.  We also propose the use of energy-based accounting as a possible methodology for feature comparison /decision-making.   In examining this, we further comment on the extended footprint of energy consumption across not only the spacecraft, but the elements of a space mission that interact with the spacecraft.

Biography: James Lyke (Senior Member, IEEE) received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA in 1984, the M.S. degree in electrical engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, USA in 1989, and the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA in 2004.

He was in active duty miltary service with the US Air Force from 1984 through 1995. Since 1990, he has supported the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV), Kirtland Air Force Base, NM, USA, including its precursor organizations (Weapons Laboratory, 1990-1991, and Phillips Laboratory, 1991-1998), in a number of capacities.  He is currently a program manager in the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Systems Branch (Space Vehicles Directorate) and an AFRL Fellow.  Dr. Lyke has lead over one hundred in-house and contract research efforts involving two- and three-dimensional advanced packaging, radiation-hardened microelectronics, and scalable, reconfigurable computational, communications and systems architectures, with recent emphasis on modularity and the rapid formation of complex systems.  He has authored over 100 publications (journal and conference papers, book chapters, and technical reports), four receiving best paper awards, and he has been awarded eleven US patents.

Dr. Lyke is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), serving on the Computer Systems Technical Committee.  He was selected as recipient of the Federal Laboratory Consortium award for Excellence in Technology Transfer in 1992 and for the U.S. Air Force Science and Engineering Award in Exploratory and Advanced Technology Development in 1997 and 2000.