Based out of Denver, project engineer Mark Severseike supports the programming of the hundreds of ground network sites and data centers for ViaSat-3 – a critical role that connects Viasat’s customers to high-speed internet.
“I’m a bridge between deployment and operations,” said Severseike. “If you build it, you still must operate it. So, I’m the guy that gets these from deployment to operations.”
A new network brings new challenges
The ViaSat-3 ground network, like the satellite itself, is distinctly different from its predecessors — ViaSat-1 and ViaSat-2 — and for Severseike, it’s unlike any other satellite network he’s worked on.
“With a new network, there are always problems nobody has figured out yet,” he said. “It’s a very different network from our other satellites, but I like that uniqueness and the challenge that comes with it. And I’m not fazed by this network because I’ve dealt with it in other parts of my life.”
Thanks to Severseike’s long history in telecommunications operations, his experience was the perfect fit for tackling Viasat’s most ambitious program yet — ViaSat-3. His 25-year career journey included working for high-profile companies like Sprint Nextel, Cricket Communications, and Level 3 Communications. In 2014, Viasat was lucky to have him join the team, bringing his unique insights and skills to the table.
“I’m a guy that doesn’t get frustrated by not knowing everything,” he said. “I keep asking questions from others and trying things. That’s when you learn and how you pick up new skills, and then I can share that with other people. It’s never dull.”
Bringing it down to Earth
With his rich industry experience, Severseike was the perfect fit for helping build the backbone of ViaSat-3: it’s ground network.
Severseike is the one that that must manage the intricacies of connecting, programming, and monitoring hundreds of satellite access nodes (SANs). Think of SANs as the invisible highway of signals between ViaSat-3 satellites and strategically placed ground antennas. His work includes balancing the various tasks that ensure SANs are able to successfully receive and transmit signals from geostationary orbit to Earth, which includes connecting equipment that controls power, heating and cooling, alarm systems, and optical equipment – all of which must be extensively tested.
“We have a short window of time to get things programmed and — if there’s a problem — resolved,” he said. “This is a connection before fiber gets brought in to get each site communicating with our network.”
ViaSat-3 and beyond
Severseike’s work doesn’t end with setting up the SANs. He’ll be sticking around well after the launch of ViaSat-3 Americas to put the newly deployed network through more testing as well as monitoring performance once it’s declared fully operational.
While the challenges of his job never cease, Severseike loves working with cutting-edge technology, and for a company that’s devoted to pursuing it.
“Viasat is a company that is not resting on its laurels,” he said. “With ViaSat-3, we’re not building another ViaSat-2 and putting it up in space and doing the same thing. I’m excited that with this satellite, Viasat technology is going to push the envelope once again — just as we did with ViaSat-1 and ViaSat-2.”
While it takes a village to tackle an endeavor like ViaSat-3, Severseike has played a critical part of bringing a new vision for satellite communications to reality.