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The ocean liner and the small motorboat (Thales and Stellar)

By 3 January 2024February 15th, 2024Stories, team and partners

Stellar and Thales just won a 4-year contract together

About one year ago, we contacted Thales to propose a partnership on space geodesy. They welcomed our initiative with great respect. Just 12 months later, the newly formed partnership has won a 4-year contract for the maintenance of a major orbitography software at CNES. This was a first try, first hit. We hope to make it the first of a long series. Many thanks to Thales for the opportunity and to CNES for the appreciation.

The small motorboat and the ocean liner

We liked the idea of a cooperation between the tiny startup and the behemoth company. We liked the striking contrast. Don’t you see a poetic imagery in this partnership? Imagine the vision of a powerful majestic ocean liner on one side, and of a fast small motorboat on the other side. It could look like something like this:

The legendary Queen Mary, playing the role of Thales

A fast small motorboat, playing the role of Stellar
(a Hacker-Craft, as occasionally used by James Bond)
Image courtesy of Dan Gilman (own work, CC BY 3.0).

The things we instantly liked about Thales

Let us share with you a few things we instantly liked about Thales:

  • They respond very quickly;
  • They are very respectful;
  • Their team feels like a family;
  • They are really smart;
  • Everyone in the team knows what they have to do, and they do it very professionally;
  • No-one is stepping on each other’s toe;
  • Since what needs to be done is done, there is no stress and no rush;
  • Therefore, the atmosphere is very sweet and friendly, and there is room to discuss serious things in a spirited manner;
  • Important agreements are reached in very few words;
  • They are big, yet nimble;
  • They are important, yet humble;
  • They have some self-respect;
  • They aim at competence, performance and merit.

These are the traits we thought of them at the first meeting. It was a pleasant encounter. There was a second meeting later with a different team, and it was exactly the same. So there is definitely a company culture at work, which, as far as we’ve observed, is filled with both respectful camaraderie and efficient professionalism. We recommend them without hesitation, both if you are a customer looking for a task well done or if you are a talented young graduate looking for a place to grow an exciting career (unless of course you are leaning towards the Stellar boat, in which case you are most welcome).

What is an orbitography software?

Orbitography softwares are used to calculate the precise orbits of satellites. They can either model simple Keplerian ellipses, or calculate real-life orbits by numerical integration, taking into account every available measurement and every possible known effect, such as the gravitational potential of the Earth, the attraction of the Sun and other planets, the ocean tides, the atmospheric drag, the solar pressure, and of course the subtle effects of relativity… The more sophisticated softwares, such as the one we are now responsible for, are made of several hundred thousand lines of code. It takes a full team and some heavy head scratching to maintain them bug-free and keep them always on the edge of progress. As for the language, our loyal and faithful old friend Fortran has rendered precious and reliable services since the beginning of mathematical computations, and it is still loved and favored.

New horizons

We are delighted that our initiative has materialized into a tangible result. We will be working together until 2028 (for a start), and we may win other projects together. We will tell you about it on this blog. If you are already working with Thales, it is very easy to extend your reach to Stellar through the Thales umbrella (in case you would be curious to play around with a crazy little startup). Learn more about what we do in space geodesy and data visualization. If you are already working with Stellar, it’s very easy to scale up the team with Thales, which can provide you with all the guarantees, stability and horsepower you will ever need. Just come talk to us, we’d be happy to organize an introduction.