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Around The Fleet

Nano Satellites

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) Series

Sputnik. The name alone evokes images of a bygone, atomic era: set to a soundtrack of post-war rockabilly, the world seemed to broadcast itself in Technicolor, and mankind was taking the first meaningful steps into the final frontier.

Today, 62 miles above us, a virtual ring of satellites circles Big Blue, beaming an endless array of signals back and forth, in their own way making the world smaller and smaller.

Getting just one of these metallic mammoths into orbit is no small feat (and could easily take years of development and cost millions upon millions of dollars.)

Enter the nano satellites.

At a fraction of the cost, these bread-loaf-sized nano satellites will provide the Navy with the game changing capabilities that will rapidly integrate mission critical payloads and deliver them to orbit with 12 months.

Huddled in a discreet Point Loma laboratory among the ever-shrinking parts and pieces (and ever-growing capabilities) sits Dmitriy Obukhov, and he's perfectly at home.

The soft-spoken, Eastern European accent hides a child-like fascination with this new technology.

"Who didn't dream of putting something into space? I thought that was every boy's dream is to go into space," he beamed. "I can't quite go into space myself but I can put a box I worked on in space, and that's pretty cool."

Serving at the cutting edge of this field is a path Dmitriy couldn't imagine himself on when he graduated high school and entered the Navy.

"I joined from San Francisco. I had no idea what I was doing after high school and I knew I wasn't ready to go to college and I wanted a change of scenery."

Soon the newly rated Interior Communications Electrician found himself reporting for duty aboard the dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45).

Safely ensconced among the repairable parts and wiring of the Engineering Department's multiple electronic gadgets, Dmitriy experienced an epiphany: he loved what he was doing.

"I like fixing stuff, I like building things," he said.

Harnessing the work ethic the Navy taught him, he obtained his associates degree, completed four deployments, and forged lifelong friendships.

"I kind of miss the camaraderie of all the friends you make on a ship," he said. "I still have my coffee mug that I used when I would stand watch on the ship."

The path was clear. He would exit the service honorably after six years, and go on to complete his bachelors and masters degrees. He would become an engineer.

"I believe a lot of the hands-on skills that I learned, especially in engine control, translate directly into the engineering field. So, the lessons you learn making sure that stuff on a ship is directly applicable to the engineering field."

Today the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific engineer confidently navigates the intricate world of nano satellite technology - and the Navy, he proudly explained, provided the perfect launch pad.