Interview with Jinki Toho, Mechanical Engineer
“Building Engineering Expertise in an Open Environment”

Could you discuss the primary goals and objectives that you and your team are pursuing at Synspective?

Jinki: Our team is responsible for the overall mechanical design of our in-house StriX satellite. This responsibility includes designing the composition, subsystems, and equipment to meet the specific mission requirements, budget, operating conditions, and reliability of each satellite. It involves coordination with related departments, including other engineering and manufacturing teams, and incorporating their feedback. Our goal is to ensure that the satellite is fully functional and capable of successfully completing its designated mission. In my role, I focus on ensuring the smooth functioning of my team and strategizing the most optimal structural design methods for mass production.

Can you tell us about your background and how you came to Synspective?

Jinki: I first encountered aerospace engineering as a student at a technical college. The knowledge and skills I gained there were soon put to practical use when I joined an aerospace company. Over nearly forty years, I have contributed to the mechanical design of satellites, rockets, and equipment for the International Space Station (ISS). As my career advanced, I sought a fresh challenge, which led me to work in structural design at a Japanese space startup and then to Synspective.  

I joined Synspective because I had a strong desire to pass on the skills and knowledge I have acquired to future generations. I also believed that a startup in its early stages would benefit from my experience and expertise. Additionally, during the selection process, I sensed in Synspective members a profound passion for satellite manufacturing and how satellite technology could provide tangible social benefits. This shared enthusiasm and the opportunity to make a meaningful impact were key factors in my decision to join the company.

Can you share with us what you find most rewarding about your work at Synspective and your personal philosophy or approach as an engineer?

Jinki: I love the craftsmanship of engineering. My particular interest lies in developing one-of-a-kind satellites. Engaging in such specialized projects allows me to dedicate meticulous attention to every aspect of development, which fosters a strong emotional connection with the work I do. At Synsective, we are involved in the entire satellite lifecycle, from production and operation to data provision and solutions. Having the opportunity to oversee a satellite’s full journey is incredibly rewarding and a unique aspect of my role as an engineer here.

As an engineer, I place great importance on imparting my knowledge and skills to the next generation. To achieve this, it’s essential to build an organization that collaborates towards a shared goal with fairness and cooperation. My focus extends beyond just enhancing personal technical abilities; I also prioritize nurturing teamwork and a positive team environment.

From your point of view as an engineer, can you tell us about the strengths and challenges of Synspective?

Jinki: Our strength lies in having established a culture that embraces innovation and experimentation. As engineers, we thrive in this environment, where there is a strong inclination to actively adopt new technologies and methodologies. Furthermore, our in-house satellite manufacturing process enables us to devise and implement our own design standards. This autonomy allows us to develop optimal standards that are perfectly suited to the mission and operational conditions of each satellite, which is highly valued in engineering.

On the other hand, our design and work standards are still evolving and there is ample room for refinement. This is somewhat expected for a startup that is only five years old. However, as engineers, we derive great satisfaction and a sense of achievement from participating in the ongoing process of establishing and enhancing these standards.

Have you implemented any specific strategies or activities to enhance communication among team members?

Jinki: Previously, our team didn’t hold regular meetings, relying instead on individual communication within our shared workspace for resolving issues. However, we’ve now established regular team meetings where each member shares their challenges and we collaborate to find solutions. Our entire team commutes to Tsukuba, enabling immediate, on-site communication. This approach not only ensures issues are promptly addressed but also minimizes the likelihood of communication errors.

As you expand your team, what qualities or characteristics are you specifically looking for in new members?

Jinki: Our team collaborates with various internal departments and external partners to accomplish our goals, making strong communication skills essential. At Synspective, we have a diverse group of individuals who have transitioned into space development from various fields. They share a passion for embracing new challenges and a strong desire to learn. This characteristic is also a hallmark of our team, and we look for these same qualities in new members.