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EP 2 — ATLAS Space's John Williams on the Space Community's Evolving Place in the DIB


On this week's episode of the DIB Innovators podcast, David talks with John Williams, Chief Executive Officer at ATLAS Space Operations, the leading provider of ground software as a service in the space communications industry. They discuss John's extensive career both in the Air Force and various defense companies, how innovation and business models in the DIB are evolving, and how the space community is becoming its own entity. They also talk about the importance of cybersecurity, what tech investments ATLAS is making to better manage terabytes of data, and advice for entrepreneurs.

Topics discussed:

  • How John's background in the Air Force and various defense companies has allowed him to lead change in the DIB.
  • The differences between "old space" and "new space" in terms of speed of innovation and different business models.
  • How the space community is "coming into its own" in the DIB, how it's updating old business models, and the challenges it still faces. 
  • What ATLAS Space is doing to improve satellite communications and moving content from space to ground.
  • Where tech investments like machine learning, data management, and better hardware are supporting innovation.
  • How ATLAS approaches cybersecurity, including a talented team and third-party support.
  • Advice to entrepreneurs to learn more about the commercial world, especially if they're coming from a military background. 


Guest Quotes: 

"I see the Space Development Agency trying to make the transition in what they're doing with their tranches, trying to capture that magic that's quicker and more innovative on the commercial side. And I think they're doing a good job of tapping into that, but it really is different. Atlas lives mostly in the new space environment, but we do have a subsidiary, for example, to deploy our capabilities towards the traditional government market space."

"We in mankind have lots of brilliant ideas. The trick for the entrepreneur is take that and converting that into something that has a market acceptance, in a business case and turn that into a real business."

"As the space community comes into its own in the defense business as its own service, it's an exciting time to be part of it, to see how they adapt to the innovation that's out there in commercial." 

"We pay a lot of attention to cybersecurity. ... As we do more and more government business, we've got to be protected at the same level as our customer."

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