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Danya Hudson

“My #AstroPassion is designing and implementing space based solutions to enrich society.”
Danya's Biography

A fascination with space at an early age led Danya Hudson to study Physics & Astronomy at the University of Victoria, but by graduation she had decided to move to the more applied field of Aerospace Engineering. She completed her Master’s at the University of Texas at Austin while working on the GRACE twin satellite geodesy mission, followed by a PhD at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI) where she worked on the development of an electrostatic accelerometer for testing the Equivalence Principle in space. After graduating, Danya worked for a short time in satellite systems testing at Thales Alenia Space (Cannes, France), before returning to Canada to join the satellite mission development group at COM DEV Ltd (Cambridge, ON) in 2010.

Sr Engineer, Systems, Honeywell Aerospace (formerly COM DEV International), Ottawa, ON

I’m a member of the mission systems group, which means I can take on a variety of roles on various projects, and be involved anywhere from initial concept studies to validation of the final product. For example I’m currently leading an R&D study on detector technology for space situational awareness while preparing for the commissioning the M3MSat satellite. My technical contributions include such things as requirements management, orbit analysis, and functional testing, but I also enjoy activities like leading teams and interfacing with customers.

COM DEV (now Honeywell) has been a major contributor to the Canadian space industry for over 40 years. While our RF products fly on over 950 spacecraft, my part of the company specializes in optical payloads and microsatellite missions. Notable programs include M3MSat (launch June 2016), the payload for Sapphire, and the Fine Guidance Sensor for the James Web Space Telescope (JWST).

The variety in my roles on different programs is the best part of my job. I can be performing trade-off studies to create a mission concept one day and in a clean room testing hardware the next. I can be technical lead of one study, or simply supply an orbit analysis for another.

I’ve been closely involved in the QEYSSAT program for a number of years, which is a proposed mission to perform quantum key distribution in space. I never thought I’d see quantum physics again, once I finished my undergrad, but ended up working with some of the top quantum physicists in Canada. Another excellent experience was supporting the JWST cryovac testing at NASA Goddard. Not only is JWST a massive international program (NASA, ESA, & CSA) supported by a lot of great people, I had the opportunity to see how NASA runs their formal testing.

A given mission could provide data for a few scientists, or it could impact public safety directly. I was recently involved in a concept study for a forest fire detection mission while some of my colleagues have worked on search and rescue transponders for secondary payloads. We’ve produced a number of AIS payloads (including for the soon to be launched M3MSat), which provide data for ship tracking. This data helps the coast guard, and was used to augment security at both the Vancouver Olympics and the World Cup in South Africa.

I suppose my only dream would be that “women in astronautics” or engineering or any other field would no longer be a thing. I wish we could just have “people in astronautics” and other fields. To support this, I speak up when I see a difference in attitude or behaviour (positive or negative) around women, or around men, or around any category of people. While I am uncomfortable with recognition and networking linked to my gender, I understand the importance of spreading awareness that traditionally male fields are not just for men (and vice versa).

Well, I’ve always liked the classic measure twice cut once concept. But more seriously, I would say have confidence in yourself. Voice your opinions, even if you’re occasionally wrong. Your self confidence will instill confidence in others, and you’ll be known as a contributor and maybe a leader.[/toggle]

Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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