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University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies
Space flight laboratory
Smaller Satellites, Bigger Return

About SFL: Management Team

January 25, 2014

Dr. Robert E. Zee – Director, Space Flight Laboratory

Dr. Zee is the Director of the Space Flight Laboratory at UTIAS, and helped to establish the lab in 1998 in response to the opportunity to provide major contributions to the MOST microsatellite, Canada’s first space telescope. He was responsible for setting up numerous programs at SFL, and securing funding to develop new missions and new technologies that have enabled SFL to deliver some of the highest value space missions in the world. His responsibilities include strategic planning, business development, operations oversight, development practice, quality assurance policies, customer service, supervision, contract negotiation and management, finance and administration. In addition, he provides technical review, systems engineering input, and program guidance to the SFL staff. Dr. Zee also supervises graduate students with thesis topics related to microspace missions and technology under development at SFL. Dr. Zee has worked for Allied Signal Aerospace Company, Spar Aerospace Ltd., and IBM Canada Ltd. He holds a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Systems Design Engineering with a minor in Management Sciences from the University of Waterloo, and Master of Applied Science and PhD degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Toronto.

GrocottDr. Simon C. O. Grocott – Deputy Director, Missions

Dr. Grocott manages microsatellite projects, and provides program and systems engineering input to project managers at SFL. Dr. Grocott conducts monthly audits of projects and provides detailed technical review. He is responsible for overseeing the development and production practice at SFL to ensure consistent standards are maintained. He assists with administration, facilities management, and business development activities. Projects managed by Dr. Grocott include NEMO-AM, NEMO-HD, and SFL’s contribution to M3MSat. Prior to joining SFL, Dr. Grocott was Head of Systems Engineering at Astrium (UK). Prior to his experience at Astrium, he was Project Manager for MOST and Attitude Control Systems Manager at Dynacon Inc. Dr. Grocott also worked at MacDonald Dettwiler Space Robotics (formerly Spar Aerospace Ltd.) He obtained his Bachelor of Applied Science degree from the University of Toronto, and his Master and PhD degrees from MIT in Aeronautics and Astronautics.

freddyp-headshotFreddy M. Pranajaya – Deputy Director, Innovation

Mr. Pranajaya manages a number of programs including SFL’s Next-generation Launch Service (NLS), Radiation Test Program, XPOD Development Program, New Instrument Research, and Propulsion System Research. He also assists with systems engineering in microsatellite projects at SFL. Mr. Pranajaya is involved in strategic planning and business development, and is responsible for the development of innovative mission concepts. Mr. Pranajaya obtained his Bachelor of Science degree at Worcester Polytechnic University, and his Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering at Stanford University. He has been with SFL since 2001.

beattie-headshotAlexander M. Beattie – Senior Mission Manager

Alex Beattie manages multiple missions and provides systems engineering input to SFL satellite projects. He is SFL’s lead communications engineer with expertise in communication systems and ground stations.  With a background in Aerospace Engineering, he joined the SFL team in 2001. He was MOST’s communications engineer, and designed major portions of the MOST spacecraft and ground station communication systems. He was also a core member of the assembly, test, and launch operations team. Subsequent to the launch of MOST, he developed innovative UHF and S-band radios and antennas for SFL satellites, and has been flight director on a number of different commissioning campaigns for various missions. He has been project manager and systems engineer for missions such as AISSat-1, AISSat-2 and NORSAT-1. Mr. Beattie graduated from Carleton University in Aerospace Engineering and obtained his Master of Applied Science degree from the University of Toronto.

SardaKaran Sarda – Mission Manager

Karan Sarda manages missions and is SFL’s lead attitude control engineer. He provides oversight to all attitude control engineers at SFL working on various satellite projects. Mr. Sarda ensures consistency between projects and exercises strict control over SFL’s attitude control simulator and flight software. Prior to his lead role in attitude control systems, Mr. Sarda was SFL’s lead thermal design engineer and completed detailed thermal analysis for a number of important space missions including but not limited to CanX-2, NTS and BRITE. Mr. Sarda also plays a leading role in the operation and maintenance of facilities and provides guidance to all spacecraft-level thermal vacuum test campaigns. Mr. Sarda holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Carleton University, and a Master of Applied Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Toronto. He has been on staff at SFL since 2004.

websitephoto-laurabradburyLaura Bradbury – Mission Manager

Laura joined the SFL team in 2009 as a systems engineer. She has worked on systems development, integration, and testing on a number of missions including EV9, AISSat-3, and NORSAT-1/-2, and was responsible for the assembly and systems-level testing of several complete nanosatellites. She has supported launch campaigns in Russia and India and been an operations lead for on-orbit commissioning campaigns. Laura obtained both her Bachelor of Applied Science (Engineering Science) and Master of Applied Science degrees from the University of Toronto.

jlifshits_headshot-smallJakob Lifshits – Mission Manager

Since joining SFL in 2008, Jakob has played a major role on many of SFL’s satellite missions, both on-orbit and currently in development. In his position as Program Manager, Jakob’s responsibilities include oversight and management of all aspects of satellite programs, business development, and mentorship of staff and students. His expertise is in the fields of spacecraft systems design, embedded systems, electronic design, and software architecture. Jakob holds a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Waterloo, and a Master of Applied Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Toronto.

Brad Cotten – Mission Manager

Brad is mission manager and systems engineer for several satellite projects at SFL. He is also the lead thermal control engineer, providing thermal design review and guidance across all projects. In addition, Brad plays an important role in SFL business development efforts by evaluating mission concepts, completing preliminary spacecraft designs, and delivering technical proposals. Since joining SFL in 2012, Brad has contributed to over ten different satellite missions through project management, systems engineering, thermal design and analysis, spacecraft environmental testing, mechanical design, electronics design, and software development. His most significant contribution has been as the manager and systems engineer for SFL’s successful CanX-7 drag sail mission. Brad completed his Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Waterloo, and his Masters of Applied Science in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Toronto.


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Arianespace to Launch Slovenian NEMO-HD Microsatellite
Dec 03 2018
HawkEye 360 Announces Successful Launch of First Three Satellites Built by SFL Under Contract to DSI
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Nov 20 2018
GHGSat selects Arianespace to launch GHGSat-C1 on Vega
Nov 15 2018
UTIAS-SFL Students Win Significant Awards for their Technical Papers
Aug 14 2018
SFL-Led Nanosatellite Team Receives Canadian Alouette Award for Precise Autonomous Formation Flight
May 17 2018
NorSat-3 Ordered by Norwegian Space Centre, Satellite Under Construction at SFL
Jan 10 2018
Norwegian AIS Satellites See Far More Ships
Jan 10 2018
BRITE Reveals Spots on Supergiant Star Drive Spirals in Stellar Wind
Oct 24 2017
CLARA on NorSat-1 Successfully Switched on for the First Time
Aug 25 2017
Norwegian Satellites Launched Successfully and Healthy
Jul 14 2017
GHGSat Unveils Satellite Imagery
May 23 2017
Dubai Space Centre Orders Environmental Monitoring Satellite from SFL
May 16 2017
After Only One Week, CanX-7 Shows Drag Sails are Effective at Deorbiting Satellite
May 11 2017
CanX-7 Successfully Deploys Drag Sails kicking off Deorbiting Demonstration
May 04 2017
GHGSat Announces 1000th Measurement – Two Months Ahead of Schedule
Apr 07 2017
Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) Nanosatellite Validates Aircraft Tracking, Prepares for Deorbit Demo
Mar 30 2017
Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) to Develop Microsatellites for Greenhouse Gas Monitoring
Mar 24 2017
CanX-7 Aircraft Tracking and Deorbiting Demo Satellite Launched, Contacted, and Healthy
Sep 26 2016
GHGSat-D (CLAIRE) Bus Commissioning Ahead of Schedule
Jun 27 2016
M3MSat Launched and Successfully Contacted
Jun 22 2016
GHGSat-D (CLAIRE) Launches Successfully and First Contact Indicates Good Health
Jun 22 2016
Deep Space Industries and SFL selected to provide satellites for HawkEye 360’s Pathfinder mission
May 26 2016
Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) to Provide LEO Bus to SSL
May 10 2016
NORSAT-1 Launch Postponed Due to Faulty Bracket Provided by Arianespace
Apr 14 2016
BRITE-Constellation Sees Stars in a New Light
Feb 05 2016
Deep Space Industries Teams with UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory to Demonstrate Autonomous Spacecraft Maneuvering
Jan 26 2016
exactView-9 Launched Successfully and Contacted
Sep 28 2015
SFL’s Josh Newman Wins 1st Place in Small Satellite Student Competition for CanX-4 and CanX-5 Formation Flying Mission Contribution
Aug 12 2015
NORSAT-2 Contract Awarded to SFL by Norwegian Space Centre
Jul 13 2015
CanX-4&5 Formation Flying Mission Accomplished
Nov 05 2014
CanX-4 & CanX-5 Formation Flying Mission, One Month in Space
Jul 30 2014
Space Flight Laboratory Launches Five Satellites in Two Weeks
Jul 08 2014
AISSat-2 Successfully Launched
Jul 08 2014
Update on BRITE-Toronto and BRITE-Montreal
Jul 03 2014
Indian rocket successfully launches two Canadian satellites
Jun 30 2014
Two low-cost, car battery-sized Canadian space telescopes launched today
Jun 19 2014
UniBRITE and BRITE-Austria Commissioned and Operating Successfully
Feb 25 2014
Canadian Space Agency Awards Propulsion System Development Contract to SFL
Dec 02 2013
BRITE-PL1, WNISat-1, and GOMX-1 Launch Successfully
Nov 21 2013
Norwegian Space Centre Awards AISSat-3 Project to SFL
Jul 08 2013
SFL Wins Contract for First Norwegian Science Satellite – NORSAT-1
Jun 14 2013
UniBRITE Achieves Arcminute-Level Fine Pointing for First of its Kind Space Astronomy Mission
Jun 09 2013
Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Demonstration Satellite Contract Awarded
May 01 2013
Next Generation Automatic Identification System Satellites to be Developed under Communitech Program
Apr 19 2013
World's Smallest Astronomy Satellites In Orbit! (Toronto Star Article)
Feb 25 2013
Austrian BRITE Satellites Launched Successfully and Healthy! (Globe and Mail article)
Feb 25 2013
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May 25 2012
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