Stephen Hawking famously said, “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.” That’s never been an issue for CGI professionals who are managing space programs for the U.S. Federal Government, especially at a time when the space industry is launching new and ambitious missions on the ground and beyond our world.
NASA’s Artemis missions will soon send astronauts to the moon – and eventually to Mars – requiring new spacecraft, launch systems, lunar landers, space suits and ground exploration systems. CGI is engaged with leaders in the space industry to consult, support and manage applications that will pave the way for a lunar landing in 2025. Out of this world, right?
For CGI members and the company at large – from career development to business growth – space remains a powerful source of inspiration and a sector where the opportunities seem infinite. There’s never been a better time to reach for the stars.
Finding inspiration in the night sky
CGI Vice-President Tina Meadows, who leads the U.S. Federal space business for CGI, is at the forefront of innovative solutions in the space sector. Reflecting on the magnitude of the work she is engaged in, she said, “We look to the stars to gain perspective and sometimes inspiration. Think of what it feels like to work on missions that impact what we put into space.”
For decades, CGI has supported U.S. and European space agencies with satellite technology; advanced software and robotics for scientific space research; ground control solutions; and network and business management systems. Audrey Lambert, CGI Director of Civilian Space Programs, says these agencies’ challenges include not only achieving mission success in the void of space, but also addressing emerging threats on the ground—and the business systems that support it all.
“We’ve had the opportunity to bring awareness to vulnerabilities in the transmission of data from space to ground station satellites,” she says. “Cyberattacks and cyber threats continue to present themselves every day, and having our hand in data integrity is huge.”
Data from space empowers life on Earth
Increasingly, solutions that space data enables are part of daily life, bringing a sense of immediacy to CGI’s work. Location-based services, weather forecasting and navigation systems are just a few examples available on almost every mobile device. Space data also holds the promise of helping government and industry address key challenges like climate change, environmental sustainability and net-zero emissions. Today, CGI plays a large part in the space sector by helping partners process the huge amounts of raw data from satellites engaged in Earth observation, which generate insights for industries as varied as farming, maritime, utilities and transportation.
“Leading our work in the commercial and civilian space industry within CGI, I get to lean into highly technical work with actual rocket scientists and see the world from a different perspective through our partnership with space based sensor companies,” says Tina. “For instance, if there is anything happening on the news that has a visual component that can be seen on Earth, it’s something satellite imagery can clarify. Creating greater satellite coverage to help more people and be in more places at the same time, it changes the way we perceive our lives, and we’re part of that progress.”
CGI is currently partnered with a company whose images help tell us what is happening in areas like Ukraine, and – in the
aftermath of natural disasters – whose capabilities save lives as they help direct vital supplies. In fact, the 21st century’s proliferation of space infrastructure and satellite capabilities is providing data that can be used to solve many problems: understanding weather patterns, making weather predictions, mapping capabilities and tracking climate and ecosystem changes on Earth.
Spanning the infinite horizon
Whether it’s looking to the outer reaches of the solar system or back to our home planet, CGI’s space professionals continue to find inspiration in both the work they are doing today and the innovation to come.
“The space practice benefits employees because it fosters the idea of ‘the limit is infinity,’” says Audrey. “Being creative and going places that no one has ever gone before can be risky, but it also stretches employees to do the impossible. Doing so broadens one’s horizons. Every day employees can hang their hat on the fact they gave it their all for a mission that was beyond what they could see.”
“I can look into the night sky and see these satellites we help power,” says Tina. “We have no idea how much is out there to explore. What we’re doing right now is going to help us get further into space, so we can understand more. I couldn’t have dreamt how much we would have grown, or the impact we’ve had. It means the world to me.”