2021: The year we will make contact again

Wishing all Eye On Orbit partners, clients and fans a stellar start of the next solar orbit of our planet Earth! 

Looking back at 2020 and forward to 2021.

2020 had a great start for my company Eye On Orbit. Up untill the first Corona lockdown, I had a fully booked agenda for Space & Astronomy presentations and workshops all over the Netherlands, but unfortunately many events got cancelled thereafter and my agenda stayed pretty empty for the remainder of the year. One of the few presentations that did happen during the Corona pandemic was online to the Aquilo rocket team from InHolland. See the full "From Sputnik to Starship" presentation on YouTube below:

At InHolland Aeronautical & Precision Engineering (PE), my teaching position has also intensified compared to last year. My courses on Space Engineering and Design Principles for PE have gone fully online this year. I really feel sorry for the students who have had a sub-optimal learning experience this year. The on-site student life, which is always very vibrant at InHolland Delft, has gone mostly to pieces. Hopefully, this will go away ASAP and we (the teachers) look very much forward interacting with the students without computer screens in between us! As for prospective students that are contemplating studying at InHolland Delft, check out the promotional video below! (I am actually taking part in this video):

From the industrial perspective, things went not too bad for Eye On Orbit. I did a very interesting project with one of my long term customers, who is developing a remote sensing instrument for the European Space Agency (ESA). I successfully provided my knowledge and skills in the domain of optomechanical instrument calibration and dataprocessing algorithms and helped my customer to stay on track for the challenging schedule.

Another interesting assignment I did was for a US customer who required me to look into the details of a satellite telecommunication payload. This payload was used for 2 tests performed on-board Blue Origin's suborbital New Shepard rocket in 2018. One of the inputs for my assignment was to watch the eclectic documentary "The Digital Nomad and the Scientist", see below:

One of the reasons this US customer trusted me with this assignment, is my involvement in Bitlinq. This is the start-up that I initiated at the end of 2019. Bitlinq aims to provide a decentralized service of doing secure 2 way communications on a global scale. I successfully demonstrated the basic functionality by using an uplink-only IOT antenna from Lacuna Space, and a regular GEO SatCom receiver antenna pointed at the Telstar 11N satellite above the Atlantic ocean. The Telstar 11N satellite is one of the four geostationairy satellites used by the BlockStream Satellite service, for which I did European continent testing in 2018 and 2019. This year BlockStream Satellite launched their 2.0 service and I featured in one of their promotional videos, see below!

On the public outreach front, I did a number of interviews for radio and newspapers. Especially the flotilla of Mars probes launched to the red planet, and the first SpaceX Crew Dragon flight, drew lots of attention in the Media and my perspective was often requested. I also did 3 Ruimtevaart podcasts together with the Den Haag FM radiostation, but unfortunately, the studio is now closed for external visitors and the recording of new episodes has been halted untill further notice. An highlight that should be mentioned though is that I have on-boarded the crew of the BNR Space Cowboys. This is a bi-weekly podcast initiated in 2019 and produced by Herbert Blankesteijn en Thijs Roes. I did my first appearance on December 10 and will be on the show once a month. My next appearance will be on January 20 2021.

For 2021 I have the following plans/dreams with Eye On Orbit:

  • Start working on the ESA/NASA Mars Sample Return mission
  • Bring on-board more Space related content in the InHolland Aeronautical & Precision Engineering curriculum
  • On-boarding a larger diversity in customers for Eye On Orbit instead of a few big ones
  • Create an online version for my workshop Interplanetary Abundance in combination with this Wonder platform and cryptocurrency based tokens for transactions between players
  • Evolve Eye On Orbit from ZZP status to a full blown B.V. including holding structure for innovative spin-offs. One of these spin-offs is Bitlinq where I am currently in waiting mode for a go-ahead of a Sustainable Development project where the Bitlinq satcom service will play a central role. Once this really goes ahead, I can make investments in scaling up the number of pilot users across the globe, and also scaling up the LEO uplink and GEO downlink partners.  

Have a great main engine shutdown of 2020 and see you for ingition and lift-off in 2021! If you are in need of independent, reliable, creative and focused expertise for policy, programmes, projects and proposals for space activities, I do hope our paths will cross (again) in the new year!

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