As the new director of electrical engineering at E-Space, Jake Peery characterizes his role as leading the team responsible for “all things electronic on the spacecraft.” For E-Space, he says, that covers quite a lot.
“I view the E-Space spacecraft as fundamentally an electrical device,” he says. “It’s a giant radio constellation in the sky that gathers electromagnetic energy from the sun and uses it to process radio frequency signals and transmit them back to the ground. That’s the reason the spacecraft are up there.”
Peery joins E-Space from Rocket Lab, where he was the avionics lead on the Photon spacecraft project. Previously, he was at Lockheed Martin working on avionics for the Apache helicopter and at L3Harris on the F-35 fighter jet. It was at Rocket Lab where he got his first experience in satellite design.
“As an engineer, I’ve always loved aerospace and I’ve wanted to work on vehicles that fly high and fly fast,” he says. “At Rocket Lab, I had the opportunity to learn how to build satellites from start to finish, and then flying them to cool places — from low Earth orbit to the moon and eventually some missions out to Mars, Venus and beyond.”
Peery says that experience prepared him for the work he’s now doing at E-Space.
“I’ve always been drawn to challenging projects and ones that are pretty notable. It makes it that much more rewarding,” he says. “I got a dose of that at Rocket Lab, and I’m excited to have this opportunity with E-Space to work on something pretty amazing on a whole different scale.”
Peery heard about the E-Space opportunity through a friend and was soon in touch with Dalibor Djuran, the company’s chief satellite systems engineer.
“Jake is a very experienced design engineer who is coming with a very strong background in the aerospace industry,” Djuran says. “He brings the structure and design process experience we need and has great leadership skills. Jake really knows how to engage and motivate the team.”
Making quick connections with E-Space leadership drove Peery’s desire to join the company.
“The interview process was unlike any that I’ve gone through in the past, where right off the bat I was able to talk with the chief engineer as well as CEO and Founder Greg Wyler. I saw it as a small company with big ambitions and a very impressive team that could make it happen,” he says.
Those conversations revealed to him what a different type of company and mission E-Space represents.
“It’s an approach based on first principles: What would it look like if you could create a satellite that weighs nothing, costs nothing, uses no power, takes up no space, etc. — how would you design that to get as close to those as you possibly could?”
That really sparked his desire to join, he says.
“I haven’t encountered that kind of approach before, and it’s an opportunity to work creatively in a way that I haven’t had the chance to at other companies.
What E-Space is doing, he says, is to push the limits of design and manufacturing.
“It’s really ambitious and exciting, and it’s also great that we’re so supported and empowered by the team from the top down to go out and execute that mission,” he says. “That empowerment combined with the strength of the team that we have and continue to build is a formidable recipe.”
Path to electronics
As a teenager growing up in Columbia, Missouri, Peery was into music, stereos and other audio equipment. When he saw an electronics class at an adult education center associated with his high school, he jumped at the chance.
“I thought it’d be cool to design a guitar amp or something,” he says. “As I got into it, I just found it to be really interesting. I also had a great teacher, which made a huge difference. And he’s someone I’m still in touch with.”
Compared to someone exposed to electronics in college, where it’s mostly theoretical to start, having that early hands-on experience was key for Peery.
“We really got to have fun playing around with electronics, designing simple circuits and those kinds of things,” he says. “My first experience with engineering was that it was really fun. That really set me on my path in college, where I ran with electrical engineering.”
After a few years at the University of Missouri, he transferred to the engineering program at the University of Central Florida. With his electrical engineering degree in hand, he set his sights on the sky.
“I always had an interest in aviation and aerospace, so I was either going to be a pilot or an engineer,” he recalls. “I figured if I was going to be an engineer, I might as well work on the type of aircraft and aerospace vehicles I always wanted to fly. I still want to get my pilot’s license though!”
Working at Advantor out of college exposed him to some great mentors, he says, which led to his next job at Lockheed Martin.
“That was a huge step up in my career, and it really taught me how to be a professional electrical engineer,” he says. “It was all about designing things very rigorously, not just ‘good enough.’ That fundamental philosophy has stayed with me through my career and it’s the philosophy that drives what we’re doing at E-Space.”
Currently in the Los Angeles area, Peery plans to move with his wife to be near the E-Space office in Los Gatos, CA.