Ken Abbott Interview

Ken Abbott Interview

A peer and I interviewed Ken Abbott, the owner of ABTech, on March 10, 2020. During the interview Ken told us about a project ABTech worked on with NASA that really peaked my interest. I have a little bit of prior knowledge pertaining to the project before the interview but my knowledge was limited. I knew the project was called the NuSTAR X-ray telescope and that ABTech built a machine to help speed up the production time so that NASA could meet its deadline but that was the extent of what I knew so i asked Ken about the details. He told us that NASA was, “looking for a machine that would be used to assemble and test what they call the lends module so it was basically the optics assembly that would capture light from a star or a blackhole and capture that light into a detector. So it was actually fairly big, about 24 inch diameter drum by almost three feet long with different lenses assembled in it. So we built a machine to do that for them. Built two machines because they were on such a time crunch they needed two lends module assembles in six months so we built them two machines and it was hugely successful. We installed the machines and they immediately went into production and had no problems at all. So it was fun. It was, I think, an honor and we’re very proud to be able to see what such a small company did for such a big project that had such a spot light on it I think. So we all stood around during the day of the launch and NASA had their footage on channel eleven or something like that, probably the public service TV but we watched the video footage of the satellite being launched into space and we didn’t get any credit for it but ya know we had fun doing the project and felt good about it.”

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array or NuSTAR telescope is used still to this day to aid NASA in researching high energy masses in space such as black holes and dying stars. According to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, the telescope uses x-ray waves to collect data and photographs of space objects otherwise difficult to study. The telescope has aided NASA in a number of discoveries from the spin rate of black holes to the movement of stars before they explode.

Ken Abbott (far left)

Upon further research I learned that the telescope was set to launch in 2012 and I asked Ken if he had any insight on whether ABTech was to thanks for that decline being met. His humble response said that there was no way of knowing for sure if ABTech was ultimately the reason the launch deadline was met but he did offer this explanation, “Lets just say we didn’t cause any delay.” Ken’s response made me believe that although there is no way of knowing for certain if his company is to thanks for the success of the launch Ken is proud of his team and the work that they point in to ensure that the role ABTech played in the project was done with the perception they are so well know for.

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