In 2011, Mike Safyan joined the eight-person founding team at Planet (known as “Cosmogia” at the time) where the company was building the first iterations of its Dove smallsats in a Cupertino garage. Since then, Planet has expanded to a global organization leading the NewSpace industry, with 400 employees and the world’s largest fleet of Medium-resolution and High-resolution Earth Imaging satellites. Mike is responsible for Planet’s Launch strategy and has overseen the launch of over 300 Planet satellites across 20 launch attempts working with a variety of different launch providers and launch vehicles. Mike’s role at Planet has evolved over time; he was previously in charge of Planet’s Regulatory Licensing & Compliance, working with Export Control agencies, the FCC, the ITU and NOAA to obtain the required approvals and authorizations for commercial, remote sensing satellites, and for a time he also oversaw the regulatory licensing and contractual management of Planet’s global ground station network.
Mike received his B.S. of Aerospace Engineering at UCLA, and a M.Sc. of Space Studies at the International Space University in Strasbourg, France. He started his career working on lunar rover designs for the Barcelona Moon Team competing for the Google Lunar X-Prize, and then joined the PhoneSat team at NASA Ames where he worked as a Systems Engineer developing ultra low-cost cubesats utilizing smartphone technologies. In 2018, Mike received the SSPI Promise Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement by satellite industry professionals under the age of 35.