Eyes to the Sky: A Day in the Life of a Numerica SDA Team Member

Numerica’s Space Domain Awareness team is making some big connections—and not just within its expansive telescope network. In November 2021, the UK Space Agency announced Numerica as an expert partner during the 72nd Annual International Astronautical Congress in Dubai. The partnership is geared to help support the agency’s international efforts to foster safe and sustainable space operations through space object tracking.

It’s a big job, but someone has to do it—like Gabrelle Saurage, Telescope Operations Engineer and proud member of the Numerica Space Domain Awareness team.

As a Telescope Operations Engineer with Numerica, Gabrelle is responsible for ensuring that a network of telescopes around the globe is consistently working properly. No small task for this ambitious member of the Space Domain Awareness (SDA) team.

What is Space Domain Awareness?

Space Domain Awareness encompasses the detection, tracking, identification, characterization and understanding of anything in space that could impact space operations and thereby impact the security, safety, economy or environment of the United States and its allies.

At Numerica, the Space Domain Awareness operations provide high-quality data and software solutions to inform operator action, which helps protect satellites currently orbiting Earth. Space debris is a big problem, and it’s only growing. As organizations work to reduce that debris, Numerica is committed to keeping astronauts and equipment safe while they’re exploring the outer realms.

What it’s like to be on the Numerica SDA team

Gabrelle joined Numerica in 2020 and works on the Numerica Telescope Network, which offers fully-integrated solutions for SDA from low Earth orbit (LEO) to geostationary orbit (GEO), day and night. The heterogeneous telescope network encompasses 28 sensors in 7 countries around the world (plus plan to add more in 2022), so there’s never a slow day at the office.

As part of a small and agile SDA team, Gabrelle manages the day-to-day operations of the Numerica Telescope network and support tracking the satellites 24-7 watching for any inconsistencies in the operation. All of the data that each telescope gathers from its respective location is funneled back to headquarters in Fort Collins and logged in the orbital and satellite catalog for existing and future customers. 

Information from the network is used operationally by multiple government and non-government organizations for purchase, making it the world’s only commercial LEO and GEO daytime satellite tracking service. Gabrelle’s primary role is to ensure that the hardware and software are always working properly. If anything goes awry, she works with technicians to get the bugs worked out.

“I hope to make a global impact, especially given that our telescopes are hosted around the world,” Gabrelle said.

Gabrelle’s favorite part of the job is the start of a project’s lifecycle, when things are dynamic, changing and still stabilizing. She enjoys the challenge that comes with the preliminary prototype before the project reaches maturity and fully stable operations.

New Opportunities for the SDA team

In November 2021, Numerica began renovations on a new industrial facility in Fort Collins, expanding its physical footprint and production capabilities. The new 30,000-sq.-ft. facility will house offices, high bay labs and manufacturing space to produce optical space surveillance sensors for the SDA operations.

The company also recently rolled out its aforementioned daytime satellite tracking, along with additional services such as critical support for satellite operators and multiple frame assignment space tacking (MFAST), which provides real-time tracking at high-resolution.

“[There’s] a lot of dynamism right now,” says Gabrelle. “This is the exciting innovative part—a lot of creativity.”