Bringing the Future to the Present

Bringing the Future to the Present

Making the impossible possible

05-26-2021
David Ray
SPACE

Growing up, watching shows about space exploration triggered my passion, drive, and curiosity to boldly go where humanity had not been before... and that is true to this day. If my not-so-subtle reference didn’t give me away, my favorite show was “Star Trek.” As a kid, I had no clue that my love for all things space would lead me to head SAIC’s space business. And now I oversee innovations that were once fictional concepts on TV that inspired us.

From “Star Trek” to “Interstellar” and every other movie or TV series in between, there is one thing that is clear: the world is fascinated and inspired by Space (yes, that is Space with a capital S). Cinema has prompted us to push the limits and boundaries of science and engineering to make future technologies that seemed impossible possible. Because as any Trekkie knows, things are only impossible until they’re not.

Our imagination inspires our work today

When I think about myself and my 4,000 colleagues in SAIC’s space business unit, our journeys in space were natural extensions of the fire that was lit within us a long time ago. Our passion is about bringing the future to the present, and it’s what fuels our success and inspires us to continue to do great things. Today, our space missions are leading us toward the commercialization of space, increased space exploration, improved ground mission support, and more small satellites. But there is one critical component that intersects all programs: getting it right the first time.

The work that we do involving mission assurance, quality assurance, software testing, engineering, and much more are essential capabilities that ensure what we do on the ground will work when it gets to space. As of late, we have been using more modeling and simulation to perform predictive analysis around what could go wrong in order to architect and engineer solutions to prevent worst case scenarios.

 

Our passion is about bringing the future to the present, and it’s what fuels our success and inspires us to continue to do great things.

 

Getting it right the first time

I will never forget watching the Space Shuttle Challenger mission in middle school. Back then, some of us will remember, our teachers rolled the TV into our classroom, and we watched the mission and tragedy unfold before our eyes. We cannot allow those things to happen. Our responsibility within the government community is to guarantee our best and brightest are working to ensure a successful mission every time, the first time. We know we only get one shot, which is a lot of pressure but also incredibly rewarding.

As an extension of our customer, we share that responsibility to ensure the entire system works. Their worries and challenges are also ours.

Today, I believe we are at an historical inflection point -- perhaps one that we haven’t seen since JFK announced the Moon landing. As a nation, we are setting unified, aspirational goals around space, and I am excited to be part of this moment in time. Our space nostalgia unifies us, and we can all get excited about space exploration together. Although space missions have evolved, our passion, partnerships, and humanity will once again lead us to accomplish new feats, change the present, and do it quicker for a fraction of the cost.

 

ADDITIONAL READING: The 3 ingredients for space domination

 

For more on what SAIC is doing for space mission customers, visit our Space page.

 

Posted by: David Ray

Senior Vice President of Operations

David Ray is senior vice president of operations and lead for the Space Business Unit within the National Security & Space Sector for SAIC. In this role, he is responsible for leading the $1.3 billion Space Business Unit with customers spanning the intelligence, defense, and federal/civil agencies.

Ray joined SAIC in 2021 with a wealth of experience in both managing and growing large technology businesses that serve government customers around the world.

Prior to his current position, Ray served as president of the Government and Defense Business Unit at FLIR Systems, Inc. where was responsible for leading all aspects of the $900 million business unit, including strategy, research and development, operations, business development, and marketing.

Ray has held several leadership roles in general management and business development at Raytheon Company from 2002 to 2017. His most recent role with the company was as vice president, Global Business Development and Strategy for the company's $6 billion Intelligence, Information, and Services Segment, serving intelligence, Department of Defense, federal/civilian agencies, and international customer markets.

He also previously served in many leadership positions of increasing authority for Raytheon Missile Systems (RMS) and Space & Airborne Systems (SAS) businesses during his 16- year tenure with Raytheon. Prior to this, he began his career as a senior management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton.

Ray received a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from the U.S. Air Force Academy and served five years in the Air Force at Andrews Air Force Base and the Pentagon where he led teams responsible for communications-related projects designed to support senior members of the government and military. He also earned a Master of Science degree in systems management and strategy from Central Michigan University.

 

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