OT’s Favourite Interviews of 2023

15th Jan 2024
OT’s Favourite Interviews of 2023

Orbital Today will be kicking the new year off with some great interviews in the coming weeks. Before we do, though we want to look back at our interviews of 2023 and focus on the highlights once more. This doesn’t mean that their quotes won’t be relevant any longer! We’ve just got a fantastic line-up forming already and before those interviews take the limelight, we want to thank the folks who took the time to speak with us.

Ross Hulbert, Cornwall Spaceport Head Of Engagement

Our interview with Ross Hulbert was the last one of 2023, and in our opinion, one that needs to be read if you want to understand not just where the spaceport is headed, but why. As he showed us, Cornwall Council asked itself a question a very Cornwall question that most might not even think of, as in “What happens when the tide rolls out?” or, in other words, “What happens if the next launch is years or months away?” The answer is genius!

Dragonfly’s David du Toit

In a February interview with Firefly Advisory Board’s David du Toit that was supposed to focus on corporate governance in the space industry, we quickly moved on to insurance and sovereign risk and further to space awareness. It’s an interview that points to the swift change in the space industry after the broad-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and I’m glad that we go to record it from someone who observed that change first-hand.

Skyrora’s Alan Thompson

The first interview of 2023 for us with Skyrora’s Head of Government Affairs, Alan Thompson, who also marked a change for us, albeit one that I’d already hoped he’d flesh out for us. Early in 2023, the HMG was trying to settle in after a period of great turmoil, with Prime Ministers and the like barely getting the ink dry on their business cards before being shown the door. Alan highlighted that each government was interested in the space industry, although things had come into sharper focus of late.

UK Space Agency Commercial Space Director Matt Archer

Matt Archer probably gave the “nail-on-the-head” line of the year, when discussing the lessons learnt on the institutional and bureaucratic side of Virgin Orbit’s “Start Me Up” mission out of Spaceport Cornwall. And, with a nod to John Peel and the Undertones, this review gives us the excuse to publish it twice:

It’s a cliché and literally so. This is rocket science.

Matt Archer, UK Space Agency

Space Forge CEO & Co-Founder Joshua Western

Joshua Western turned our attention to one of the earth-side problems of the space industry: the lack of qualified personnel. Space Forge have looked elsewhere to great effect. That’s not just in terms of tech chops, however. My favourite quote from the interview?  “Our approach at Space Forge is, ‘we can teach you to be a great engineer. We can’t teach you to be a nice person.'” Definitely a must-read on how to get around a number of hurdles on the way to space.

Rocket Factory Augsburg CEO Stefan Tweraser

Back to the rocket science for this one; and over to the Continent. Stefan Tweraser and RFA had a good year, and I was happy to catch him mid-way through it. As he looks at rockets through the lens of the automotive industry and, of all things, Legos, it’s not surprise that he also sees the company’s footprint in global terms.

CAA Head Of Space Regulation Colin Macleod

The Cornwall Spaceport and Virgin Orbit licenses for spaceport and launch operations, respectively, raised questions about how the next license would be issued, and what had been learnt by the Civil Aviation Authority. Colin Macleod patiently answered them!

XCAM CEO Karen Holland

A good interview, or rather a good interviewee, leaves a lot of afterthoughts, and Karen Holland certainly did not disappoint! From intellectual property protection to AI/ML for imagery processing in space and determining just what landed on your sensor inside a rocket and how the smaller companies work with NASA and ESA, there’s a lot to think about in this one!

The University Of Manchester’s Dr. Sarah Crowther

We’ve got rocket scientists, manufacturing geniuses and decision makers in this group, but only one who works with asteroid samples from Outer Space itself!!! Dr. Sarah Crowther does exactly that, and she’s got the coolest machine to do it with – literally. Supercooling asteroid samples and shooting a laser at them; and Manchester’s got the best one in the world for that, if xenon is your thing. A must-read.

A round of ‘Thank You’s and more interviews to come

Ends up that we couldn’t pick a favourite interview, so we listed them all for the year. Orbital Today would like to thank each and every one of our interviewees in 2023 for taking the time to speak with us!
We have some great interviews already in gear for 2024, and they’ll start coming out by the end of January. Orbital Today Are GO!

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