Generation Next: Libby Khaskin, SpaceCom

Libby Khaskin is one of the up and coming minds at Israeli satellite operator SpaceCom; she is the leader of the spectrum and orbital resources team. After completing an Electrical Engineering degree at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Khaskin was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and began her service in the C4I (Communications) Corps as an officer in the satcom department. During five years of service, Khaskin was engaged in various satellite communication projects, dealing with satellite Earth stations and terminals, operations and frequency coordination.

Khaskin wants to be at the forefront of change and believes young engineers bring a lot to the table. “There is a new generation of satellite engineers who are driven by innovative thinking and are looking to be at the forefront of our industry. It also helps that some of the universities, and even high schools, have programs with space-related studies. Last year, for instance, Israel’s first nano-satellite, designed by a group of high school students, was launched into space,” she says.

Khaskin’s work in the field of international frequency coordination and regulatory issues, means she regularly works with professionals from other satellite companies, the ITU, and a whole slew of regulatory bodies. She says that, in this international environment, she certainly sees significant age differences. As Israel’s representative to the ITU, her work takes her to a variety of committees, discussion groups and workshops, where she admits she often notices the difference of approaches between the young and senior generations of engineers. “As younger engineers, we tend to challenge things — maybe everything! We often find ourselves uncomfortable leaving certain situations as they are and want to create change. Some of our solutions are more radical and others are controversial but we are always looking to find solutions to regulatory issues or to find a new way to address an issue that works better. At the UN, challenging the norm is not always met with equanimity. Yes, life at the ITU is not always easy but it is very worthwhile when our changes contribute to create a better international regulatory environment,” she adds.

Khaskin believes that, as the prices of satellites come down, the role of the industry will only increase. She wants the industry to challenge her in this regard. “As broadband data expands, more satellites will add capabilities to handle it, and as more go into orbit, prices will drop. Large Internet players, such as Google and Facebook are planning and already acting to get into the industry. ... I believe that these non-traditional players will have a major impact on the industry as we know it today,” she says. “For me, as long as the challenges in the industry exist and allow people like myself to work on multi-disciplinary projects, I will be here. As we move into the future and as orbital positions and spectrum resources become more and more scarce, frequency coordination and international regulations experts will play an important role in the industry.” VS

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