This year’s workshop topics are now confirmed. Submit your preferences following this form. Please indicate your first, second and third choice by filling the options below. Workshop places will be allocated on a first come first served basis, but you need to have purchased the Eventbrite ticket in order to secure a place in a workshop

Workshop 1 – Space & Cybersecurity

Sponsored By: European Space Agency 


The strategic value of satellites inevitably raises the issue of cybersecurity. What is the utility of an earth observation satellite if the valuable geographic information it provides can be stolen and used against its owners, or if its systems can be disabled in a pre-emptive strike? While open source access for many of ESA’s or NASA’s civilian missions guarantees the limitless and free use of their data, much less can be said for projects with a military purpose. The information they provide thus becomes a lucrative and enticing prospect for hackers. The recent ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attacks on public institutions have added urgency, and emphasise the need for not only secure and up to date software, but also adequate staff training. More so, considering how satellites and their associated infrastructure are critical to sustaining an increasingly globalised, and interconnected world. Because cyberattacks are primarily the result of human error, a solution would be to simply encourage responsible data handling and safety awareness. Another solution is the creation of firewalls, enhanced encryption tools, and to limit whenever possible the sharing of strategic data. However, this too is problematic. Scientific collaboration requires an efficient and open way in which information can be shared and managed. Currently, incompatible communication systems between space agencies, such as ESA and NASA, hinder the very collaboration public space entities swear to. At the same time, open access to data can lead to military secrets being unintentionally revealed, setting back national security interests. The space sector is unique in the field of cybersecurity. It is an industry where civil, commercial and military applications seamlessly co-exist, creating a haphazard situation for cybersecurity experts and telecommunication engineers.

This working group invites the participants to reflect on the nature of space and cybersecurity, what the priorities of governments and international institution should be, whether data should remain open source or limited in its availability, possible technical solutions to the challenges posed above, and the shape and origin of threats to cybersecurity in space.

Questions to consider

• How will the advent of quantum encryption change space telecommunications?

• How do we effectively manage and share data in an environment where scientific

collaborations must coexist with national security interests?

• How do we create a global communication model that ensures data is shared in a way nations

feel safe enough to work together? Who would govern such a model?

• Is the threat of a cyber attack on space communications infrastructure and networks real or


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Workshop 2 – Space Exploration


“Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever.”

With this statement in 1911, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a pioneer in rocket science, envisaged the human will to explore the universe. Nowadays, we have sent spacecraft to many bodies in the solar system; we have landed humans on the Moon, and we have proven that men and women can withstand living off of the planet for prolonged periods of time in Space Stations. Our current society also strongly relies on services provided by Earth-orbiting satellites.

But the will to explore the universe is not yet fulfilled, so, what is next?

The answer will probably include a manned mission to Mars. Several spacecraft and rovers have targeted Mars in the past years to understand better the Red Planet. As Buzz Aldrin once said, “ Mars is there, waiting to be reached”.

Jan Wörner, the Director General of the European Space Agency, presented the idea of an International Moon Village in 2016, stating that the plan should include going first to the Moon and then further on, adding that he would not even call Mars the ultimate goal as humans will go further. Private companies, such as Space X and Mars One are also exploring the possibility of sending and settling humans on Mars.

However, there are many challenges still to be overcome. First of all, there is the technical complexity of sending tons of payload such a long distance away, and ensuring the safety of the crew despite all the hazards they will be exposed to, whilst also providing comfort, food and services. It’s not all about technical challenges as well – the topic also raises questions on how to start a new society on a new planet.

Because of that, some people believe that money should rather be invested on unmanned missions, as the complexity, and hence the cost, of a manned mission is much higher, whilst there is not necessarily a proportional benefit in the amount of science that can be collected.

This working group aims at discussing the current initiatives regarding spaceflight towards Mars, which may include getting back to the Moon first, as well as the habitability of the planet. See below some of the questions to guide the discussion; although it can be adapted to suit the interests and the different points of view of the participants.

Questions to consider

• Is there a real benefit on sending humans to the Moon, Mars or other celestial bodies?

• Could the Moon Village become the follow up of the International Space Station?

• Should we aim to create a sustainable environment on Mars or the Moon so that the humanity could really expand beyond the Earth?

• Which laws should apply in the event of settling? Should it be treated as another country, or as an international community?

• Can a country or a private company claim ownership of the land they settle in?

• Should international regulations be put in place now to be ready for potential settlements in the future?

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Workshop 3 – Emerging Space


The emergence of private investment in space activities has opened up the space market to commercial development and Private-Public Partnerships in a way we have never seen before. New technologies and manufacturing processes are disrupting the space access and satellite markets. We are increasingly seeing companies propose and implement networks of tens to thousands of small satellites – such a massive amount of data will easily feed the Industry 4.0 and IoT age, but also the presence of more hardware in popular orbits adds to the problem of space sustainability and space debris mitigation. Private players are operating their own spaceships, and while space tourism is in its infancy milestones are constantly being achieved – more than 400 people have already subscribed for a suborbital flight with a Virgin Galactic spacecraft.

However; new use means new challenges, and the public and private sector must be ready to adapt and meet them. In this workshop, please consider the questions below as starters for your conversation. You may adapt the theme of your discussion to suit your interests, keeping in mind your unique position as being the young, energetic, creative and upcoming workforce that you are. Perhaps the ideas you consider during this workshop will be ones you implement later on!

Questions to consider

• Is a public-led space sector preferable to a private-led one? Why or why not?

• What new technologies will disrupt the space sector environment, and what will the role of private and public players be?

• Should the space industry be treated as any other, with free market access for any company wanting to be part of it? Or should there be stricter regulations? How will access be regulated and governed?

• How liable should private space flight companies be for accidents, considering the pioneering role they play, and the obvious risks? Should we uphold them to the same safety standards as Space agencies, or would this hurt Space flight instead?

• How can the involvement of all new players be managed from a space debris perspective?

• How do we (Europe) ensure we are not left behind in these changes, and keep our industry attractive in an increasingly competitive market?

• Which emerging space markets are seen as the greatest threat or opportunity?

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Workshop 4 – Space Society


Nowadays, it’s impossible to imagine a modern society without space. Investments in space provide significant returns in industry and commerce through the creation of spillover technology and their application to lucrative markets. Pokémon Go, for example, would not have existed without space technology. These benefits are well recognised, and have been documented extensively, but less well communicated is the fact that space can also be a formidable boon for society as a whole. Capacity building, disaster risk management, weather and climate monitoring, or water recycling – these are space applications that are often overlooked, but key for human and economic development. Satellites can provide connectivity to remote areas, or in developing countries, where infrastructure is lacking. This connectivity can then be used for telemedicine or e-learning services, helping support  human welfare and development. Earth observation equips policy-makers and national authorities with the data needed to plan against poor urban development, pollution and climate related disasters. Medical experiments on the International Space Station will save lives back down on Earth, and the technology developed in the laboratories of space agencies and companies will and have transformed the way we consume, travel and interact with our world.

Beyond the technology, the achievements of space and its global outlook offer a unique perspective on Earth and society’s problems. Space is a source of inspiration. Its lessons in international collaboration are a model to imitate. If we are ants going from point A to B, then space adds a third dimension, an orbital perspective from which we can imagine new solutions to our problems. These technological and human success stories can change our norms and behaviour for the better, but communicating their often abstract and indirect benefits is challenging.

Recognising this, ESA, the European Commission and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs have emphasised the need to align the downstream applications of space with UN 2030 Sustainable Development goals. This working group will invite participants to join international organisations and the world’s nations in reflecting on the issue of how to best ensure that space contributes to the development, both human and economic, of society. With the upcoming UNISPACE+50 conference, which will mark the 50 years since the signing of the treaty for outer space, this issue more relevant than ever.

Questions to consider

• Which space technologies do you see contributing the most to human development?

• How do we make clear the socioeconomic benefits of space applications to potential users?

• How should space agencies frame their Earth to space missions to ensure the public perception of their utility, and thus their long-term support?

• What can ESA or the EU do to promote the growth of the space sector in emerging markets?

• What opportunities for space cooperation (with or economic sectors, nation-states or international organisations) have yet to be fully tapped into by ESA or the EU Commission?

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