Meet the NASA Engineer Who Protects Satellites From Cyberthreats

Kenneth Harris II, who has worked on everything from space security to next-generation observatories, was inspired to pursue a career in spaceflight by his father.

NASA engineer Kenneth Harris II is only 28 years old, but he has already contributed to some of the most important missions and objectives at the agency, including its next-generation James Webb Space Telescope.

The telescope “is often seen as the successor to the wildly popular Hubble Space Telescope,” said Harris, who served as deputy lead integration engineer for Webb’s computing and electrical resources, in a VICE News interview posted on Tuesday. 

“Webb is essentially a time machine, or you can think about it as a time telescope,” he added. Its infrared vision will let us see back over 13.5 billion years to see some of the first stars and galaxies that were actually formed.”

In addition to helping NASA gaze back at the earliest days of the universe, Harris is an expert at protecting satellites from cyberthreats and malicious interference in low-Earth orbit. The work of keeping satellites safe is a crucial part of space security as the orbital environment gets more crowded and the geopolitics of space become more complex.  

Harris hopes to build on his meteoric career at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center by eventually taking to space himself, as one of the agency’s astronauts. You can watch him talk about his inspirations, his advice for aspiring space enthusiasts, and his future goals at this link.