Employee Spotlight: Meet Hina Khan – Senior Project Manager & UK Stakeholder Engagement

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Hina Khan meeting HM Queen Elizabeth II

What’s your role?

My role at Spire is multi-faceted, covering different areas of the business and engineering departments, but all with an outward focus of ensuring Spire is at the forefront of technological advancement and viewed as a leader in the satellite industry. I manage Spire’s portfolio of technology developments in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) through our Glasgow office. This involves the development and demonstration of several groundbreaking capabilities such as GNSS-reflectometry, which provides information on the changing land and sea conditions to support climate science studies, and enhanced compute power on orbit. This enables AI data processing over highly congested data collection areas to allow a timely response to the changing environment.

I work closely with governments, national agencies and other sector leaders to ensure that Spire is part of the growing UK and Scottish Space Sectors, contributing to the policies and development of national space strategies that will see the UK flourish as a leading global space nation. I also collaborate with colleagues across the company to promote Spire on a global stage.

Can you share a highlight while working at Spire?

One of the highlights of my job has been meeting important and influential people. I was honored to meet Her Majesty The Queen when she visited the Spire office in Glasgow in 2021. It was such a privilege to talk to her about the work we are doing in the space sector, and I was encouraged by her interest in our satellites’ capabilities.

Describe your journey to Spire.

My journey to Spire has been quite involved and has taken many twists and turns. I have a background in Space Science with a Ph.D. in Solar Terrestrial Physics — the study of the interactions between the Sun and the Earth in the near-Earth environment. I spent many years in academic research, leading research programs to further our understanding of our closest star and the impact this has on our world. I had the opportunity to work at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for a number of years, as well as the ESA European Space Research and Technology Centre in Holland conducting research using satellite and ground based radar. I then began to move towards satellite operations and then finally into more application-based science — focusing on how the science we study can be used to make the world a better place to live.

I began to apply my science background to solve ‘real-world’ problems. This drew me back to Scotland, where my love for space started, to lead activities supporting and invigorating the growth of the Scottish space sector. It was at this time that I encountered Spire and was immediately intrigued by the vision of being able to monitor the Earth using small satellites and to make meaningful decisions resulting from these measurements. My science background helped me understand the underlying processes that were being used, but the ability to do this from a small satellite platform was groundbreaking. I joined the team in 2018 to lead the ESA program of work which would help develop the technology to enable everyone on the planet to use data that to date had only been accessible by a few scientists.

What Spire value do you relate to the most?

The value I relate to most at Spire is collaborative as I really enjoy working with lots of people to make things happen. I always try to help where I can and sometimes take on too much as a result. But it is great when everyone is pulling in the same direction to achieve a goal that will drive us all forward. It is so nice to be part of an organization where working together is not just a value, but something that actually happens on a daily basis. Everyone is part of the team and everyone contributes to the success.

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I love getting out of the city and enjoying the outdoors. Living in Scotland means I don’t need to travel very far to really feel like I am a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Traveling has always been something I enjoy — going to new places, working in different environments and learning new things. Now I get to share this love with my children and show them that being in a new place need not be difficult or scary, but an adventure to learn and grow from. Traveling around the islands in Scotland really makes you feel like you are far from anywhere, and you get to be totally relaxed.

What is a project that you have worked on that makes you particularly proud?

The ESA programs have been transformative in terms of being able to demonstrate Spire’s innovative technology development. It also led to the formation of Spire Space Services, a commercial opportunity where Spire is able to support other new entrants to the space sector with a reliable and cost effective method to get them to market. Having a partner like ESA is like a gold standard of authority. It shows that we are a trusted friend and can be relied upon to deliver great services in a successful manner to meet the demands of such an organization. I am very proud to have led this program over the last 4 years and see it continue to grow in new areas that are of mutual interest.

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