Better Satellite World: The Promise, Episode 4 - Looking to the Future with 20 Under 35 Honorees Aysha Alharam and Laura Cummings

SSPI

May 24 2024 • 32 mins

In this Better Satellite World podcast series, we ask the question: “What would you do if you had the power to make the world a better place during your career?” Joining SSPI’s Lou Zacharilla to answer that question in the fourth episode are 2 members of the “20 Under 35” cohort of 2023: Aysha Alharam, Acting Head of Satellite Design and Development at the Bahrain National Space Science Agency and Laura Cummings, Regulatory Affairs Counsel at Astroscale U.S.

Aysha Alharam is the current Acting Head of Satellite Design and Development for the National Space Science Agency (NSSA) of Bahrain. She began her career in 2018 when she was selected as one of the nine first members of the Bahrain Space Team, a position that had over 4,000 other applicants. As the first Bahraini space engineer leading the team, Aysha served as project manager, idea innovator and software developer for the “Aman” payload project, which won the prestigious Payload Hosting Initiative – organized by the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) in 2022 – out-competing space agencies, companies, universities and research centers from over 100 countries. The Aman payload project showcases Eng, which focuses on securing satellite data through a novel cybersecurity encryption algorithm based on FPGA and parallel processing technology. Aysha personally developed the idea of the AI-based image processing system that will be onboard the first Bahraini satellite, “AlMunther,” the first of its kind in the Middle East region. She completed her education with two Masters degrees, one in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a concentration in space technology from Khalifa University in the UAE and one in Information Technology and Computer Science from the University of Bahrain.

Laura Cummings is Regulatory Affairs Counsel for Astroscale U.S., a position in which she is responsible for identifying and helping to create the regulatory framework to authorize In-Orbit Servicing, Assembling and Manufacturing (ISAM) for spacecrafts such as Astroscale’s Life Extension In-Orbit (LEXI) missions. These satellite missions require knowledge and expertise in multiple legal frameworks, orbital regimes and technical innovations, with only a handful of precedents that can be considered examples by regulators. In addition to her work on the ISAM regulatory framework, Laura represents Astroscale U.S. in a variety of industry associations, including the Commercial SmallSat Spectrum Management Association (CSSMA) – of which she is President and a Board Member – and the Consortium for the Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing (CONFERS), where she helps the industry to shape policies and communications standards for ISAM missions. Before joining Astroscale U.S., she served as a Regulatory Intern at SES Satellites and a FAA Legal Honors Intern at the Federal Aviation Administration. Laura received her Bachelor of Arts in International Regulations and Affairs, Astronomy from the University of Colorado Boulder, her Doctor of Law in Space Law and International Law from the University of Denver – Sturm College of Law and her Juris Doctor in Space Law from Georgetown University Law Center. While earning her degrees, she held major roles in the Space Law Society at both Georgetown University Law Center, where she served as Vice President and then President, and at Denver University, where she served as Executive Director.

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