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SSPI Names the 2021 Promise Award Winners at the Future Leaders Celebration

The Space & Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) today presented the 2021 Promise Awards to Kelsey Doerksen of Planet, Sydney Hamilton of Boeing and Raven Moreland of Ball Aerospace. The Promise Awards honor the three top-ranked members of the annual '20 Under 35' list of space & satellite employees and entrepreneurs age 35 and under who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the early stages of their career. The three recipients were honored at the 16th annual Future Leaders Celebration in Mountain View, California, in conjunction with the Satellite Innovation 2021 Conference, produced by SatNews publishers.

“For the second year in a row and the third time in the history of the Promise Awards, women swept the three top positions among our ’20 Under 35’ cohort,” said executive director Robert Bell. “Diversity of both gender and ethnicity remains a challenge to our industry, but if the 2021 honorees of this program are an example, the space and satellite business is definitely working the problem.”

“For the first time ever, SSPI inducted a Black woman into the Space and Satellite Hall of Fame in March,” said membership director Tamara Bond-Williams. “And on October 5, also for the first time, two Black women were named winners of the Promise Awards. I’m excited by this progress and look forward to seeing more and varying kinds of diversity as our industry grows.”

The 20 Under 35, Promise Award winners and Mentor of the Year are selected by a jury of industry executives who donate their time and expertise to reviewing dozens of nominations received from around the world.

The 2021 Promise Award Winners:

Kelsey Doerksen

Space Systems Engineer in Satellite Operations, Planet

Kelsey joined Planet in February 2020 after completing a series of internships at the Paris Observatory and NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. In her current role at Planet, she is responsible for identifying, triaging, root causing and resolving satellite anomalies and performing fleet-wide health check-ins for the largest Earth observation satellite constellation in the world. Kelsey also has extensive experience in using Python to develop tools for autonomous satellite operations and in creating and aggregating performance metrics to provide insight into constellation health and productivity. While working at Planet, Kelsey also serves as a Paris Observatory Researcher and Summer School Lecturer, a position she has held since 2018. She is enrolled to begin her Ph.D. in Autonomous Intelligent Machines and Systems at the University of Oxford in October 2021.

Since joining Planet, Kelsey has proved to be a dependable, creative teammate with extraordinary technical skills and social intelligence that have already produced many accomplishments. She co-led the commissioning campaign for Planet’s Flock 4S 48 SuperDove satellite launch in January 2021. Her responsibilities for the program included planning the commissioning campaign in its entirety and aggregating metrics describing the performance of the commissioning campaign and presenting the results at a company-wide meeting. Kelsey also simulated the addition of 48 new satellites to the existing Planet constellation ahead of the launch, created a dashboard to track the status of every satellite as part of the launch and wrote Python code to automate the whole process. In addition to this achievement, she founded the partnership between Planet and the USA and AUS/NZ cohorts of the Frontier Development Lab, which gathers researchers for eight weeks every year to tackle complex machine learning problems. Kelsey provided satellite imagery to the drought detection and fire mitigation and modelling teams and acted as the official partner representative and domain expert on behalf of Planet.

Outside of work, Kelsey serves as Manager for the Space Generation Congress (SGC) 2021, the Space Generation Advisory Council’s (SGAC) annual meeting in support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications. She volunteers her time with a variety of other organizations, including the Zenith Canada Pathways Foundation and the American Meteorological Society Science and Technological Activities Committee for Space Weather. Kelsey has made presentations at numerous conferences and been published as part of many of those presentations as well. She has also spoken at many outreach events and talks, particularly in the area of STEM outreach for women.

Sydney Hamilton

Structures Stress Engineering Manager, The Boeing Company

Sydney began her career at Boeing in 2014 as a Structural Design Engineer, a role in which she supported projects like the 777 Automated Floor Drilling Equipment Elimination & Floor Redesign project and the 777X Folding Wing-Tip Mock-Up. She also worked in the Commercial Aircraft Operations Center as a Service Engineer before moving on to become a Mechanical Systems Engineer designing, analyzing and managing projects for additively manufactured parts for space and launch systems. Sydney next took on the position of Responsible Engineering Authority (REA) for satellite reflectors, in which she led a cross-functional team to develop reflectors for multiple commercial and government programs, demonstrating rapid problem-solving skills and the ability to consistently meet aggressive deadlines and cost targets. In her current role of Structures Stress Engineering Manager, she leads a high-performing team of 18 engineers that perform critical technical analyses for all three major Boeing Divisions: Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS) and Boeing Global Services (BGS). While Sydney’s primary organization within the company is in BCA, her leadership spans beyond BCA products to include BDS products such as the CST-100 Starliner reusable spacecraft capsule, Space Launch System and Wideband Global SATCOM.

Sydney has distinguished herself in many areas since joining Boeing. She became Manager of the Structural Analysis Team at Boeing just after her 30th birthday, a role in which she leads a team that provides structural analysis engineering for design, repairs and modifications for multiple Boeing programs, including satellites, rockets, manned spacecraft and commercial airplanes. As part of the Advance Design Engineering Additive Manufacturing Team, Sydney developed and maintained the largest database of additive manufacturing analyses at Boeing. The database is the first of its kind and provides access to complete and reviewed engineering work products, enabling other engineers to reuse and leverage existing analyses as part of ongoing work. She also performed design work for 3D printing satellite components in this role. Sydney has won multiple awards for her contributions to the industry, including the prestigious Arlington W. Carter Legacy Award at the 2021 Black Engineer of the Year Awards Conference. She also received the Boeing Engineering Excellence Team of the Year Award in 2017 for her work on the Aircraft Dagger Fitting Team that increased 767 production rates from 1.5 to 2.5 planes per month.

Outside of work hours, Sydney dedicates much of her time to mentor and inspire young STEM talent. She is an IF/THEN Ambassador for the American Association of the Advancement of Science and the Executive Board President for the Dramatic Results Non-Profit Organization. Sydney was keynote speaker for the 2021 Young Women in STEM Conference, keynote speaker for the #CloseTheGap virtual conference and an invited speaker at the May 2021 #unmuTED TedX forum. She was also a panelist for the roll-out of a new Girl Scout STEM Career Exploration Badge and a guest speaker at the Kode with Klossy Summer Camp, among many other outreach speaking opportunities. Sydney treats every speaking opportunity as a way to show students, particularly young women and minorities, an example of what they can achieve if they follow their dreams.

Raven Moreland

Spacecraft Power Systems Engineer, Ball Aerospace

Raven joined Ball Aerospace in early 2020 as a Systems Engineer and currently serves as lead for the Electrical Power Distribution Subsystem (EPDS) on NASA’s SPHEREx program, which will conduct the first near-infrared all-sky spectral survey to study the cosmic origins of the universe and galaxies. Her contributions to the EPDS on the SPHEREx program have already proven invaluable in her 14 months spent on the project. In her first six months on the project, she was responsible for researching and procuring the solar array technology that will power the SPHEREx spacecraft and quickly realized that the original design exceeded the system’s mass allocation. Raven discovered a novel technology that is more efficient, smaller, lighter and more powerful for less cost than the established baseline, thereby getting the project back on track seamlessly and with added benefits. She consistently provides valuable feedback for deliverables, researches options for spacecraft components and contributes design ideas.

Before joining Ball Aerospace, Raven served as the Lead Operations and Ground System Design Engineer for General Atomics, where she led operations on the Orbital Test Bed 1 (OTB-1) mission, the first truly commercial all hosting satellite. She was responsible for commissioning of the spacecraft, including anomaly resolution, operations logistics and user manual development, and she went on to lead and define the ground system fault detection, isolation and recovery philosophy for the OTB-2 and OTB-3 missions. Raven served as the only Operations Engineer for the OTB-1 project, wrote the satellite’s anomaly recovery procedures and was on call to solve them on the spot during and after launch. She also served as a Satellite Systems Engineer at Orbital ATK, where she performed mission operations development for geostationary (GEO) satellites and helped direct the GovSat-1 and Al Yah 3 missions. Raven spent her first year of her professional career at Intelsat and served as the Lead Payload Engineer for the Intelsat IS-35e next generation digital payload satellite. While at Intelsat, she created a new, automated capability for in-orbit testing (IOT). While performing in-orbit testing for a newly launched satellite, her payload team quickly found the testing phases to be intense, monotonous and prone to human error due to requiring the team to manually enter testing results into the database. She wrote a script to automate IoT in response so that team members could see which tests were running based on the configurations set up and which also logged the relevant test result data into a database without needing manual input. For her accomplishments throughout the space sector, Raven has received numerous awards including a 2021 Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) Modern-Day Technology Leader Award, an Intelsat Spot Beam Award, an Orbital ATK Spot Award and the General Atomics Most Valuable Professional Award.

Outside of official work hours, Raven joined two employee resource groups at Ball Aerospace to serve as an ally for other African Americans and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. She recently appeared on a roundtable discussion on intersectionality within Pride with the Pride Ball Network and serves on the events committee of the African Diaspora Network at Ball Aerospace. Raven is also an active volunteer for the High Line Canal Conservancy of Denver, where she works to maintain the accessibility and cleanliness of the city’s 71-mile canal. She has also served as a mentor at local high schools to help students interested in STEM complete college applications, obtain career information, and receive scholarships.

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