How do the thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth manage to keep from colliding with one another?
For many spacecraft, the answer lies in small propulsion systems that allow them to maneuver in orbit and reposition when necessary. One producer of those engines is Phase Four, which bills itself as a maker of “simple, compact electric propulsion for space.” But operating a supply chain to ensure timely production with zero margin of error is anything but simple. On this episode, we learn of the unique challenges involved from Laura Overly, director of supply chain with Phase Four. She describes how the rise of “megaconstellations” of communications satellites like those of SpaceX’s Starlink, Amazon’s Project Kuiper, and OneWeb have created a surge in demand for the company’s engines. With nearly two decades of experience in managing advanced-technology supply chains, Overly is responsible for maintaining tight links with trusted suppliers, and for overseeing the manufacture of a complex unit that’s roughly the size of a toaster — and getting smaller all the time. Hosted by Bob Bowman, Editor-in-Chief of SupplyChainBrain.
A blog post by Overly: “How to mass produce for space.”