Friday, March 26, 2021

A Day in the Life of a Space Consultant


I'm sometimes asked what it's like being a space consultant and what I do on a daily basis. This question is difficult to answer because my work changes from day to day. I usually respond with something like, “I take care of my clients' needs, do my own internal research, and keep up with the space news and community.”

I thought it might be helpful to document what I do on a typical day. I chose Wednesday, a relatively simple day of no meetings, no phone calls, and no deadlines. I do have days when I'm tied up on phone or video calls more often than not, but those aren't as fun to write about.

I apologize for the length of this play-by-play. Due to the diversity of topics I cover in a typical day, it's unavoidable if I'm to accurately portray just how much I jump around in a typical day.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

I have the luxury of sleeping in. I'm a night owl and my husband is a morning person, so he cares for the baby in the early morning, allowing me to get up and start work at my leisure. One of the first things I do is check on the status of the SpaceX Starlink launch. I wake up enough at night as it is with my two youngest children, I wasn't going to wake up at 4:28 AM my time for what is now an almost routine launch of satellites. Cheers, the launch was successful!

I check email and listen to podcasts as I start my morning. I'm subscribed to many podcasts, most of them space-related. I listen to podcasts throughout the day when I'm cooking, cleaning, or doing simple labor. By the end of this day I've listened to 4 and a half podcast episodes.

I catch up with my overnight and morning Twitter feed while listening to the rest of Tuesday's FAA Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) meeting which I wasn't able to listen to in its entirety yesterday. I click on any interesting space news articles to add to my “To Read” tab group for later.

I pause Twitter scrolling and the meeting recording in order to read and respond to an email from one of my Generation Z interviewees for the second edition of my first book Rise of the Space Age Millennials. I plan to incorporate the voices of the younger generation in my book on space perspectives, motivations, and dreams. I'm nearly done with the interview process.

While I'm in my email inbox, I start reading through various space-related newsletters. I'm subscribed to 4 daily space newsletters plus at least 11 weekly ones and a few monthly ones. I click on any interesting articles to read later.

I make the painful decision to turn down a prospective client. I hate doing it, but the job wasn't the right fit for my business. I referred him to others. Thankfully, he takes it well.

I send a couple quick emails to members of my sales team who I require updates from.

With email done for now, I return to Twitter and the COMSTAC meeting. I turn my entire attention to COMSTAC for a moment to jot down an exact quote to use in the Astralytical blog article I'm writing about launch delays out of Cape Canaveral.

I resign myself to doing required NASA SATERN training for IT security. I don't do this often, but I include it to emphasize that even a small business owner needs to do tedious stuff like this. One of my clients has a NASA contract that requires it. Thankfully they pay me for my time.

The training takes longer than expected so I pause to make lunch for the kids and me. I finish the training over lunch. Then I take a half an hour break away from my computer to rest.

Back to work! I do a math check for another client working on a NASA proposal on a timely subject. I don't talk about my clients and their work as a rule. But I can tell you my work for clients ranges from business-heavy such as due diligence for investors, science-heavy such as evaluating science proposals, and policy-heavy such as prioritizing national space directions.

I review a draft cover letter for another client who is applying for a space industry job. Then I take another break.

I email my client working on the proposal a few more times. Yes, much of my work involves email.

I catch up with Twitter. Then I turn to my “To Read” tabs. First thing: an article with satellite images of that ship blocking the Suez Canal. An article about corporate responsibility in space. The details of that fabulous polarized image of a black hole. A contract to expand the Space Force's space objects library.

Whew, a quick break. Then more reading. An article on NASA's Commercial LEO Development program following a NASA presentation I attended yesterday. I pause to do some cross-platform social media postings for my company about the topic.

Back to the news. Relativity's 3D printing of its rocket second stage (with a neat video!). An interview with astronaut Kathy Sullivan. A few older articles I looked up on a proposed national spaceport authority that was discussed during the COMSTAC meeting.

I look for an Aerospace Corporation report "A National Spaceport Strategy" published last year but can't find it. I ask my space community on Twitter if any of them know where I can find it.

I take a quick break including checking my personal social media accounts. I read another space newsletter that just arrived in my inbox as well as other email.

I read another article, this one about Astroscale's ELSA-d satellite deorbiting mission that just launched.

I catch up with Twitter and pause to watch Emily Calandrelli's TikTok video on a piece of fabric from the Wright Brothers' plane on the Mars helicopter Ingenuity. 

I read an article on private astronaut training. This reminds me to write a follow-up email with an interview request to a private spaceflight facilitator for my upcoming book about space tourism and private spaceflight.

A take another break. I read another incoming space newsletter. I read an article about a space recruiting agency. Then I visit individual space news websites to find any interesting news I missed. I read the first of a series of articles on the challenges of measuring the space economy.

I catch up with Twitter. Then I read about a seal skin spacesuit by an Inuit artist (with a neat video), followed by an article about zodiacal light due to Mars dust. Yes, I read a lot. This is part of my job. I try to stay informed about as many thing space-related as possible.

Another break. More Twitter. I read an document called Forecasting Future NASA Demand in Low-Earth Orbit from 2019 that was referenced in the NASA presentation yesterday.

Not having received a response on Twitter, I send a quick email to Aerospace Corporation requesting the report about a national spaceport authority.

I complete my analysis on Cape Canaveral Spaceport launch delays for the blog article I've been planning to write. This is a quick task because I've already collected the data, I just need to rearrange it and make the plot.

I get responses back from the Aerospace Corporation by both Twitter and email saying the report is not publicly available. Oh well. I was just curious.

I catch up with Twitter and take another break. If it seems I take a lot of breaks, it's because I have three small children. I'm not even mentioning breaks unless they're at least 3 minutes long.

I begin writing the Cape Canaveral launch delays blog. I want to finish it before dinnertime, but I keep getting interrupted. Eventually the kids win and I stop work for the evening.

Dinner, family time, cleaning, and kids dominate my evening. I get back on my computer just in time to watch the launch of the Arianespace Soyuz at 10:47 PM my time. I try to get the baby to go back to sleep as I read an article about space company exits and SPACS then another on a Cold War project to build a huge radio telescope in West Virginia.

Finally, in the peace and quiet of the late night, I spend half an hour finishing writing the launch delays blog article. It just needs to be proofread before being published tomorrow morning. I end my day reading for pleasure, space-related yes, but science fiction.

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