• Question: These were my questions for you: What kind of equipment do you design? Who builds and makes your equipment? Why wouldn't you use the money for your company? and Is there a lot of technology involved?

    Asked by Annabelle to Mike on 20 Jun 2015.
    • Photo: Mike Lawton

      Mike Lawton answered on 20 Jun 2015:

      Hi Annabelle – thanks for your questions. My company designs things that deploy or unfurl from a satellite once it gets into orbit. This means things like solar panels, antennas and boom systems. (Booms are used to place experiments and cameras away from the side of the satellite).

      There’s a lot of really highly specialised design and technology involved. For example, some the sort of materials we take for granted on earth that we make thinks out such as plastic for example can’t be used in space. Plastic for example “out-gasses” in a vacuum meaning it releases chemicals that could end up covering other parts of your satellite – not at all welcomed if your camera lens gets covered in gunk! We design our products ourselves but a handful of other companies actually make the individual parts for us. We then assemble the parts into a complete product test it in my company.

      I wouldn’t use the money for my company as I’m not allowed to! The many has to go to a good cause, so if I won, I’d give the money to an organisation that i support called “Engineering YES”. This is designed to help science & engineering students understand the business side of technology, i.e. what sort of things you need to think about to make your idea a commercial success. I hope I’m helping & inspiring the next generation of Richard Bransons!

      Good luck with your studies and thanks again for your questions.