SpaceGen United Rewind

by Victoria Carter-Cortez, SpaceGen United Deputy Manager


Just a few weeks ago, SGAC concluded its first-ever online Congress, SpaceGen United (SGU) – and what a journey it has been!

SpaceGen United saw 143 delegates from 53 different countries join together for a dynamic and engaging nine-day programme which hosted 14 hours of keynote speeches (now available on SGAC’s YouTube channel!), as well as panels which featured everything from discussions on the space economy and the state of the European space industry, to a conversation with astronauts Mike Finke and Chris Ferguson as they prepare for their upcoming flight on Boeing’s Starliner.

7 Workshops
took place during the week of SpaceGen United, including a virtual Hackathon sponsored by the European Space Agency as well as a UN COPUOS simulation, led by the Secure World Foundation, amongst others. These workshops provided an opportunity for delegates to deep dive into a variety of topics with the support and input of 50 subject matter experts from right across government, industry and academia. The outcomes and recommendations of each of these workshops were impressive, reflecting the high level of participation and involvement of the delegates throughout the event. These were delivered as a series of short videos at the closing of SpaceGen United which were broadcasted to the SGAC network (you can check them out online!).

In addition, SGU held a variety of fun activities, many through partnerships, to foster engagement. In collaboration with ‘Our Giant Leap’ Initiative, an artwork showcase took place on the theme of women in aerospace, Planet hosted a trivia night for the delegates, we maintained the yearly tradition of a joint ISU-SGAC social, and held a vertical development workshop delivered by Julie Chesley, PhD from SYNCUP. In addition, we celebrated culture and diversity through our own SGU culture challenge on Instagram and aimed to collectively run, cycle and swim the distance from Earth to MEO.

We are very grateful for the feedback received from the delegates, sharing with us that their SpaceGen United experience was awesome, inspiring and engaging. For some delegates, international travel requirements or the costs associated with them can be a challenge to attending physical events so it was wonderful to see such limitations lifted as a result of the new online format.

All the hours of programming, the technical details of hosting sessions online, the creative thinking necessary to transition from what was originally a physical event to a virtual one, could not have been possible without the SpaceGen United Organising team and the SGU Workshop Moderators. These 35 dedicated and outstanding volunteers weathered a global pandemic, balancing their studies and work commitments, and in short of 3 months delivered a terrific online congress! A huge thank-you to each and every one of them for their hard work and commitment – congratulations on making SGAC history!

Victoria Carter-Cortez is an astrophysicist and aspiring space policymaker. She currently works as a consultant at PwC’s Space Practice where she is actively involved in projects that support both the public and private sector in decision-making, space policy development, and carrying out economic impact assessments. Prior to this, Victoria was working at the European Space Agency’s Washington D.C. Office as part of ESA’s External Relations Department. There, she analysed developments from key space actors and worked to strengthen international partnerships across the Atlantic. Victoria carried out her Master’s degree at University College London where, in partnership with the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, she investigated Jupiter’s X-ray auroral activity. Opening opportunities in STEM, particularly for women, is close to Victoria’s heart. To this end, she has worked as an academic mentor internationally, sharing her passion for space and delivering interactive courses to engage and inspire the next generation of space scientists and engineers.