We.OHB - Career as a space pioneer

A career in space does not have to be a dream. OHB is constantly looking for new pioneers around the entire would and in all corporate segments.
Once a month on Wednesday OHB employees describe their own personal impressions of their “dream job” in space in our “We.OHB” series and under the hashtag #weohbwednesday.   

Part 1 with Antonella Sgambati: It's important to have a vision! #haveavision

Antonella Sgambati welcomes all visitors to her office with a warm smile. A system engineer with Italian roots, she has been with OHB’s Human Spaceflight Department (HSF) for seven years and clearly derives a great deal of pleasure from her job. After all, she deals with a lot of other people, a fact that is also implied in the name of her department, namely “Human Spaceflight”. “We have a particular responsibility as we work on projects in human spaceflight,” explains Antonella Sgambati.

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The history of the Human Spaceflight and Exploration Department dates back to OHB’s early days. Prof. Manfred Fuchs was one of the pioneers in establishing the European Columbus module on board the International Space Station ISS, for which OHB contributed decisive work. Among other things, the HSF department develops, creates and tests several important technologies that are implemented on board the International Space Station. “Our department is involved in so many different application fields with the European Space Agency and that’s what makes it so much fun and challenger. We are in charge of development and testing many experiments with different scientific goals: as muscle tone in space, 3D printing, fluid science and exobiology as well as we are involved in studies to pave the way to the successor to the ISS in the mid-term future. It is never boring,” says Antonella Sgambati.

She studied aeronautic engineering in Naples, majoring in space technology, and ended up in Bremen via various detours, bringing her family with her. The family-like structures at OHB are also a major advantage according to Antonella, who goes on to say that “Employees have very close contacts with the Management Board and we are an integral part of corporate development.” Incidentally, one example of these close contacts is the Management Board breakfast, which is a firm fixture in the OHB calendar. Regularly a member of the Management Board invites a small number of employees to join them for breakfast in order to share their ideas and thoughts.

Antonella Sgambati’s commitment extends far beyond the OHB campus. Another matter close to her heart is furthering women’s opportunities for achieving management positions and raising their visibility in the aviation and space industry. For this reason, she works actively in the global “Women in Aerospace” (WIA) network, holding the position of WIA Bremen coordinator together with her OHB colleague Michela Cantisani.

Towards the end of our conversation, Antonella makes an unexpected admission: “I originally wanted to be an archaeologist and explore the origins of life and unveil secrets.” But space travel, she says, is far more fascinating as you are part of the future. And the endless expanse of the universe surely has many a secret waiting to be discovered.

More about the Human Spaceflight & Exploration Department’s projects

Diversity on the job? “Yes!” says Antonella Sgambati. Our list of HSF projects makes it clear why this department is so diverse:

  • Development of the European Physiology Module (EPM), which has been on board the ISS since 2008
  • Part of the Industrial Operational Team (IOT) for all Columbus Infrastructures developed by OHB
  • Human physiology: The Myotones experiment to monitor the neuromuscular fitness of crew members on board the ISS. (Link to Myotones article)
  • The VIPGRAN (Vibration Induced Phenomena in Granular Materials) experiment on board the ISS to investigate the properties of granular materials in weightless conditions. Among other things, OHB is supplying the electronics and software for the experiment.
  • Exobiology and Spectrometers applications: OHB is participating in the exobiology facility outside the ISS
  • 3D printing on the moon: OHB is working on a study to design a moon base using 3D printing technologies. Known as URBAN, the project is specifically tasked with evaluating the feasibility of and resource requirements for the implementation of 3D printing for a lunar base.

The purpose of the MELT (Manufacturing of Experimental Layer Technology) project is to use the ISS as a testing environment for trialing and operating a printer that is capable of producing high-performance components from polymeric engineering materials. Link to 3D printing article)

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