WG 1: Space Debris Management: a common threat

Space debris constitutes man-made material that orbits Earth, including retired satellites, spent rocket bodies and debris from collisions. As the use of space increases, so has the amount of debris, with several cases where debris has directly affected space missions, disrupting economic activity and making human space exploration less safe. With a dramatic rise in the number of spacecraft approved for launch over the next decade, often in mega-constellations, we face a pressing need for space debris mitigation. This working group will focus on how the Asia-Pacific might be placed to help mitigate this threat. This includes how nations in the region could regulate and encourage others to regulate space launch in a way that will help minimise new space debris. It also includes new opportunities for businesses in the region to create new markets that help remove spacecraft and rocket bodies that might otherwise create new debris.

Focus Questions:

  • How will space debris impact the economy of nations involved in space across the Asia-Pacific?
  • What additional regulation could we standardise across the Asia-Pacific to greatly reduce the risk of growth in space debris?
  • What business opportunities could help prevent or remove debris in space?

WG 2: Robotics as a precursor to return to the Moon

The Moon has rapidly developed as the next target for manned space exploration, with NASA expected to land astronauts by 2024. This manned exploration will be preceded by multiple robotic landings by private companies and governments, with nations in the Asia-Pacific playing an increasing role. How can the Asia-Pacific leverage the activity on the Moon to contribute to Lunar exploration through robotic missions and grow regional space capability? This working group will take inspiration from past global exploration, as well as current planned regional missions, to inform what the next steps might be for the region when planning robotic missions. As an example, should we send robots to potential landing sites to survey the terrain in detail in preparation for human-rated landings? Should we have robots test technologies that might be useful for human exploration, but are relatively novel?

Focus Questions:

  • What robotic missions would help solve knowledge gaps that currently make manned Lunar exploration dangerous and uncertain?
  • What leadership in robotics and space missions do companies and nations in the Asia-Pacific show?
  • How could nations and companies in the Asia-Pacific collaborate towards a regional or other international Lunar robotic mission?

WG 3: Potential of Satellite Industry in Asia-Pacific

A satellite is an artificial object which has been intentionally placed into orbit.Today a growing number of satellites orbit around the Earth, making various earth observation, remote sensing, technology verification,communications, navigation and science applications possible. They contribute considerably to our well-being and enable us to achieve our goals in innovative ways. The satellite industry which is an important part of any economy for the development of infrastructure, telecom, science and space industry is growing rapidly and the Asia-Pacific satellite industry was propped up by a projected 5.6% regional economic growth in 2018 and 2019 and continues to be on a roll. Today there’s a huge demand for satellites having new opportunities and capabilities in various markets across the Asia-Pacific region to fulfil the future growing demands. This working group will focus on how the Asia-Pacific can get benefits from satellites and what are the potential markets to go with satellites having numerous capabilities, especially benefits associated with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Focus Questions:

  • What Sustainable Development Goals could be addressed by satellite technology in the Asia-Pacific?
  • What are the major challenges in Asia-Pacific associate with satellites? How can we overcome those challenges?
  • How can we collaborate to get more benefits from satellite industry? What are the initiatives taken to collaborate?
  • This working group topic will be further discussed in APRSAF regarding its contribution to SDGs in the Asia-Pacific region.

WG 4: Women in Space: Gender Balance in the Space Sector

Empowering all women and girls is one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and albeit the progressive efforts to address these, gender equality is still one of the pressing issues in today’s society even in the space sector – which has been running on the context of a legacy that has been predominantly male. Although the number of women in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is growing, participation of women in developing countries, including those in Asia-Pacific, needs to be increased. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), regional averages for the share of female researchers are 23.4% for East Asia and the Pacific and only 18.5% for South and West Asia.

Building on last year’s working group discussion on the importance of gender diversity in space, this working group will take a closer look on the challenges faced by women in space as well as initiatives to promote gender balance and broaden opportunities for women in pursuing space-related careers.

Focus questions:

  • What role(s) do women play in the space sector? How can women bring a different perspective to space-related issues?
  • What are the challenges faced by women in the space sector and how can they be overcome?
  • What initiatives can be taken to broaden opportunities for women in pursuing space-related careers? How can we improve gender equality and promote gender balance in the Asia-Pacific space sector?