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Better Satellite World: Summer Fun 2021

Summer is a time for fun in the sun, for vacations, hobbies and taking a step back from the usual business of the industry. In this podcast series, we check in on what people in the industry are doing this summer, what they're thinking about for the fall as they head out on vacation and what they’re planning to do to when they return to make a better satellite world.

Episode 1: Summer Fun with AB5 Consulting and Farmer Charlie's Betty Bonnardel-Azzarelli

Betty Bonnardel-Azzarelli is the Founder and CEO of AB5 Consulting, Ltd. and the award-winning SME Farmer Charlie. She has extensive international experience in the high tech, aerospace, satellite, energy, nuclear, transport, and defense industries, for both public and private sectors. Betty is an experienced businesswoman, skilled in strategy, regulatory, highly complex and technical project/program management, contract and bid management, change and risk management and business development. Before founding AB5 Consulting, she served for over 20 years at DGA (Direction générale de l'armement) as Supply Chain Project Manager - Satellite Space Segment and then Project Manager Tendering - Sea Defense System on board Frigate, and she still serves today as Ingenieur de l'Armement. Betty is the Chair of SSPI's UK Chapter, a position she has held for 4 years. She has served in a variety of other leadership roles outside work, including as a board member for International Women in Engineering and Science, Vice Chair and member of the Executive Committe for Women in Nuclear UK and Project Manager Nuclear Transport Regulations for the World Nuclear Transport Institute.

In this podcast, SSPI Director of Development and Innovation Lou Zacharilla checks in with Betty on her summer plans and learns more about how she was recently honored as a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II!

With Thanks to Our Corporate Partners

Episode 2: Summer Fun with Hall of Fame Member Dr. Gladys West and her daughter Carolyn Oglesby

Dr. Gladys West served as a mathematician at the Naval Proving Ground (now the Naval Surface Warfare Center) in Dahlgren, VA for forty-two years before her retirement in 1998. During her long career, she led a multi-year project that created a mathematical model of unprecedented accuracy of the shape of Earth, which proved to be a critical building block in the development of Global Positioning by Satellite. In 1956, she became the second-ever black woman hired to work at the Naval Proving Ground in Dahlgren, VA. She initially served as a programmer in the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division for large-scale computers and also as project manager for data-processing systems used in the analysis of satellite data. During this time, she also earned her second Masters degree from the University of Oklahoma, this time in Public Administration. In the early 1960s, Dr. West worked on an award-winning astronomical study that demonstrated the regularity of Pluto's motion relative to Neptune. Her work on the astronomical study led Dr. West to begin analyzing data from satellites to put together altimeter-based models of Earth's shape. Learn more about Dr. West.

In this podcast, SSPI Director of Development and Innovation Lou Zacharilla checks in with Dr. West and her daughter Carolyn about their summer plans and invites them to go surfing with him.

Episode 3: Summer Fun with Rice Space Institute's Dr. David Alexander

Dr. David Alexander is the Director of Rice Space Institute at Rice University and Chair of the Aerospace and Aviation Committee at Greater Houston Partnership. He serves as a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, where his primary area of research is solar astrophysics. As RSI Director, Professor Alexander is responsible for the mission and direction required to develop and achieve the goals and objectives of the institute. He has established a strong Rice presence in the Houston space community and strengthened the institutional ties with the NASA Johnson Space Center, developed partnerships with local aerospace industries and created a strong rapport with local, regional and federal government leaders. Professor Alexander is a member of the Rice Faculty Senate and author of “The Sun” part of the Greenwood Press “Guide to the Universe” Series. He received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2004 and was appointed a Kavli Frontiers Fellow by the National Academy of Sciences in 2006. Professor Alexander joined the faculty at Rice in 2003 from the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, California where he was a Staff Physicist working on the development of advanced space missions for solar physics. In 2018, Professor Alexander became an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE). This OBE was awarded to Dr. Alexander “for his services to UK/US links in the space industry and higher education.”

In this podcast, SSPI Director of Development and Innovation Lou Zacharilla checks in with Professor Alexander on his summer plans, the summer heat in his long-time home of Houston, and how his birth city of Glasgow has become an up-and-coming space hub.

Episode 4: Summer Fun with ST Engineering iDirect's Kerstin Roost

Kerstin Roost is Director of Global Strategic Partnerships at ST Engineering iDirect. She is also the President of SSPI’s Luxembourg Chapter and was recently elected as Co-Chair of the SSPI-WISE Networking and Swag Working Group as well. In her role at ST Engineering iDirect, Kerstin manages the company's indirect sales channels to better serve ST Engineering iDirect’s partners, customers and their partner networks through integration of all types of capacity and connectivity. Before joining ST Engineering iDirect, she served in a variety of roles at Newtec over the course of 11 years, beginning as a software and support engineer before becoming Public Relations Director and eventually Director of Strategic Partnerships. Kerstin holds an Multimedia Engineering degree from the University of Technology, Business and Design in Wismar, Germany. In 2019, she led the founding of SSPI’s Luxembourg Chapter and continues to serve as its President today.

In this podcast, SSPI Director of Development and Innovation Lou Zacharilla checks in with Kerstin on her summer plans and how she manages to take some time to relax amidst her many responsibilities.

Episode 5: Summer Fun with Brewery Ardennes' Derek Edinger

Derek Edinger is the brewer and co-founder of Brewery Ardennes, a craft brewery and hospitality destination in the New York Finger Lakes region. Their mission is to offer traditional and approachable Belgian-style beers in a unique and upscale setting. He is also an advisor and consultant to the satellite remote sensing, data analytics, and satellite technology and manufacturing industry. Derek was most recently Chief Strategy Officer and Co-founder of Ursa Space, a U.S.-based satellite intelligence company that provides business and government decision-makers access to on-demand analytic solutions. Prior to co-founding Ursa Space, he held senior management and engineering positions at Maxar (formerly Space/Systems Loral), Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center, and Raytheon (formerly Texas Instruments) where he was responsible for management of satellite technology research and development, satellite programs, advanced spacecraft materials and structures research, RF filter/multiplexer engineering and manufacturing, advanced antenna development, and structural design and analysis. As an engineer, Derek was a lead engineer responsible for mechanical design and analysis of advanced, precision spacecraft structures and airborne radar systems. He received a Promise Award from SSPI in 2007.

In this podcast, SSPI Director of Development and Innovation Lou Zacharilla checks in with Derek on his summer plans and learns a bit about Brewery Ardennes and its excellent Belgian-style beers.

Episode 6: Summer Fun with STS Global's David Hershberg

David E. Hershberg is Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board STS Global Inc. Mr. Hershberg, a telecommunication industry leader and serial entrepreneur, has over 40 years of experience in the industry. He has recently sold Globecomm Systems Inc. which he founded in 1994 and was CEO for 19 years for $340 Million. During his tenure as Globecomm CEO, David Hershberg significantly grew the company infrastructure and service business and received multiple entrepreneurial achievement awards. Previously he was also CEO of Satellite Transmission Systems, a company he founded in 1976, that was sold for $120 Million when he left in 1994. Both companies employed over 400 people when he left. Mr. Hershberg began his career as one of the engineers responsible for designing the hotline between Moscow and Washington DC that was used for negotiations during the Cold War. He is a member of the Space & Satellite Hall of Fame, inducted in 2003.  Learn more about Mr. Hershberg.

In this podcast, SSPI Director of Development and Innovation Lou Zacharilla checks in with David on his summer plans and how he’s enjoying the beaches and weather out in his home of Long Island, New York.

Episode 7: Summer Fun with Santa Claus

Those of you who attended the Better Satellite World Celebration last December know that the typically festive event had a moment of controversy when both Santa Claus and Father Christmas showed up. Santa had lost an election to return as the man of Christmas, while Father Christmas, with a lot more savvy when it came to getting around the world via satellite, was about to be installed.

The controversy, for some reason, has continued. No one is quite sure why, but today we are visiting with the ex-Santa Claus to see what he’s up to this summer.

For more information about Santa Claus (Mike Richardson), please visit

Episode 8: Summer Fun with the Satellite Groupies

Unlike most trade associations, SSPI has Groupies! The origin story of SSPI allegedly begins in a bar with a band of satellite enthusiasts who called themselves the “Satellite Groupies.” In this podcast, we get the real scoop from some of the folks who made up that original group – and learn from them what the pioneering days of the satellite industry were like and what lessons they can share with us today. SSPI invites you to join Membership Director Tamara Bond-Williams for this two-part conversation with the Satellite Groupies.

The Original Satellite Groupies include:

  • Lynn Fischer is living in Kentucky where she is Founder & CEO Catalyst Learning and still applying lessons learned about how to apply technology to expand access to education.
  • Polly Hollis is retired, living in North Carolina. Ever the organizer, Polly is a member of three book clubs, two bridge clubs, a gourmet cooking group, a gardening group, She chairs a wine appreciation group and have started a new dinner and wine group called the Wineaux.
  • Susan Irwin is still residing in Washington DC, in Georgetown where at least one Groupies meeting convened. She’s semi-retired, working on being more retired eventually. These days, Sue is Consulting, Managing Director of Euroconsult and volunteering with Geeks without Frontiers.
  • Irl “Bucky” Marshall splits his retirement time between Arizona and Colorado. He keeps himself busy playing music and working at a food bank.
  • Bill Page is living in Virginia and is active in Industry as VP Salés North America for Novelsat.
  • Joe Pelton is living in Virginia. Joe is active in the industry as a consultant and author. His 54th book, Space and Sustainability, comes out in September and his 55th, Space Safety Study of NASA Launch Systems, releases at the end of the year. Joe is Chair of the Board of the Alliance for Collaboration in Exploration of Space (ACES) and the Executive Board International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety, Editor for the Journal of Space Safety Engineering (JSSE), a member of the Editorial Board of Space Policy and Advisor to Theia Communications.
  • Mack Schwing is retired and splits time between Arizona and California. He is currently active in the Wine industry, as part owner of a company that teaches wine industry professionals to sell wine.
  • Del Smith, living in Maryland, is hyper-active! He is currently serving as general counsel for a Lunar Development Company, which is in stealth mode.  

The Groupies have since expanded to include:

  • Mary Frost Distler, living in New Jersey, volunteers at Duke Farms. She previously taught officers at Ft. Meade Defense Information School.
  • Arlene Krebs lives out in California, She is currently serving on Boards of Directors, grant writing/consulting for orgs involved in providing computers & broadband to low income individuals, consulting and helping orgs for those experiencing food insecurity and homelessness and working in the arts. Arlene was on the Board of Directors of the Arts Council for Monterey County for 9 years, 2 of those years as President of the Board. She is also creating events, fundraising, and serving the community.
  • Penelope Longbottom is currently living in Virginia and is actively retired, keeping busy with travel, fitness and mentoring young professionals.
  • Peter Marshall is retired and living in England, where he continues to work with fellow groupie Joe Pelton on space-related books and is a published author of two spy novels.