Views on the 4th European Space Generation Workshop

By Eleonora Lombardi & Ana Raposo

This year, the 4th European Space Generation Workshop took place in London gathering experts, young professional and students to nurturing the next generation’s perspective on space matters.

Ana and Eleonora have been respectively the co-event manager and the programme team member of the 4th European Space Generation Workshop (E-SGW), and the very first reason why they should thank SGAC for organising this kind of event is the community it is shaping. We already e-met a couple of times, but this was the very first time the two of them had the chance of working together and getting to know each other better.

What’s a Space Generation Workshop?

The Space Generation Workshops are large regional events that bring together students and young professionals to discuss current and upcoming space sector opportunities and challenges with a regional perspective. Through our regional workshops, we aim to promote the voice of the next generation of space leaders in each of our six regions. Just to give you a flavor of what happened in London, we are going to share some insights of this year working groups and interviews with the grant’s winners!

This year, there were four Working Groups (WG): Economic Development & Corporate Strategy; Space Policy, GNSS and the UN Sustainable Development Goals; Space Medicine; and New Space and Constellations. The delegates have been asked to analyse these issues, and to provide recommendations to the United Nations, to the SGAC itself, and to the sponsors and partners.

Outcomes of the 4th E-SGW Working Groups

Starting from the first challenging WG, the delegates explored the economic challenges to the global community articulating the economic factors that impact investments and technology development in order to understand the strategic options available to companies to address those challenges. The Economic Development & Corporate Strategy WG summed the reflections on the need of a closer collaboration between private industries, and between LSIs, SMEs and government introducing commonly used metrics from other industries. At the same time to give them more of a voice in policy discussions, as for example, support UN member states in creating advisory bodies to navigate political/legal complexities. Last, but not least more conscious efforts are requested to utilize space capabilities locally and also to link SDGs with space technology development. Indeed, this last point is strictly linked to the outcome of another WG, the Space Policy, GNSS and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Space Policy, GNSS and the UN Sustainable Development Goals started its work from the “wedding cake” concept by Stockholm Resilience Centre, i.e. using social metrics.

They concentrated on the biosphere level encompassing: clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), climate action (SDG 13), life below water (SDG 14) and life on land (SDG15). The main outcome is basically that GNSS can benefit the tackling of all of the listed SDGs! Just to cite some, SDG 6 by being applied in water quality monitoring or meteorological forecasting or SGD 12 by being applied in climate change monitoring or climate disaster. The main priorities on this topic include the engagement of public and private companies in the use of the GNSS, but at the same time the assistance in clarifying privacy issues in the use of the data making them accessible and enabling users to utilise them for free.

The Space Medicine Working Group focused on both up and downstream medical space research. The delegates discussed the applications of medical experiments and research developed on board the ISS and what this has taught us about medicine in space and the open challenges to solve before we can consider long term space travel. This led to the analysis of three main internal topics: psychology, radiation and monitoring. Psychology, social and mental health are all under the same umbrella when we speak of team cohesion and autonomous decision making. Teaching how to team up for problem solving is key to solving unexpected events that could happen during long term missions, although nowadays there is no promotion of team cohesion. Regarding the radiation problem that is the main cause of delay for long-term missions, research funding and collaboration with research institution, stakeholders and multidisciplinary teams is highly requested. Monitoring techniques that have already been used and tested in space can also benefit our society on Earth – for this we need to know how the results of space research can be exploited for other purposes, and in particular which useful tools or instruments used in the health sector come from technologies already used in space.

Last but not least, the New Space and Constellations WG addressed the opportunities and challenges of the ongoing space revolution. With the cost of access to space steadily being reduced and ever more technological automation and miniaturization, new business models and possibilities are made possible. This new wave attracts new people and new capital to the space business where the establishment of a roadmap to legally and politically prepare for implications of future technologies is needed. The international community, as well as the industry need to be prepared in anticipating market demand, develop new applications and standardize the regulatory framework.

But what are the core topics that combine all the above mentioned topics? Mainly three: the role of private and public partnership that is seen as essential to accomplish social objectives within the new space era; the involvement of the industry in high-level institutional fora and the role of the European Union as the trait d’union between the local and international levels.

We hope you got excited waiting for the next edition! The results of the call for hosting the 5th ESGW, will be live soon and… we look forward to meeting you there!

The voice of the participant: three interviews

SGAC tries hard to make its events accessible to as many people as possible. Three scholarship winners, Melissa Mirino, Stacha Petrovic and Zainab Mavani, talk about their experiences.

Melissa Mirino, iSpace Scholarship Winner

To start with, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your involvement with SGAC before the workshop?
I am currently a PhD student in Planetary Science at the Open University (UK). For my doctoral dissertation, I am studying ancient river systems on Mars. My involvement with SGAC began during the Poland Mars Analog Simulation (PMAS) in 2016. I collaborated with the Space Exploration Project Group (SEPG) in organizing meetings and discussions related with the mission to assign roles and tasks between the participants. I created protocols and video lessons in support to the analogue astronauts to perform geological Extravehicular Activities and I was also a PI of an experiment during the same mission. Presenting the results of this experiment at the International Astronautical Congress 2017 I won the award for the best interactive presentation in my category. During the presentation I advertised the PMAS mission and the SGAC activities. Currently I am part of the organizing team for the Space Rendezvous in Rome which is now supported by SGAC and WIA-E. I am taking care of the social media platform, and I am collaborating also in creating the activities for the event. We are currently try to involve more people with different expertise and possibly to inspire the young generation to take a career related with STEM.

What made you apply to the 4th ESGW?
I was particularity interested to learn more about the use of Space Technologies in support of the UN-COPUOS goals, and the workshop represented a good way to give a personal contribution.I was also interested to extend my network in Europe and SGAC represents an amazing network to collaborate with young professionals with different expertise and from all over the world.

What did you enjoy the most about the workshop?
I particularly enjoyed the working group activities. It was really challenging to be part of the Policy Group, as it is really different from my research field. However, I am really satisfied to have an overview about the policy procedures for a space mission in support of the United Nations goals.

What were your biggest take-aways from the event?
My Italian colleagues and I were considering to propose an Italian location for the next E-SGW. It was really useful to “look behind the scene” to have a clearer idea about timing, location, expectations and logistics.

What’s next? Was there anything in particular you were inspired to do, either as part of SGAC or in your career?
I am currently working as a tutor for a charity association called Brilliant Club. I am developing some tutorials related with planetary science applications. Taking part in the 4th E-SGW allowed me to have nice ideas related to the use of Space technologies in support of the UN development goals to show to the pupils how the space research is helping in the improvement of our lives. I hope to be able to inspire them in taking a career in STEM and hopefully in some space discipline.

Stacha Petrovic, winner of the European Space Leaders Award

Congratulations on getting a scholarship to attend the 4th ESGW and thank you so much for accepting to take this interview!

“Thank you very much and no problem at all, I am happy to do this interview with you!”

To start with, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your involvement with SGAC before the workshop?

“Sure! My name is Stacha Petrovic and I am an Aerospace Engineer working in the European Space Launcher industry. I graduated from the Delft University of Technology about 2.5 years ago and found out about SGAC during my studies. Actually the first time I got exposed to SGAC was at the 2014 IAC in Toronto where I was representing my faculty. I met such an amazing group of people and immediately got hooked and wanted to become part of the community. I attended some smaller events up until my first SGC in Adelaide, Australia in 2017. Since then I have held one of the two SGAC national point of contact positions for the Netherlands and have been organising local events in the Netherlands as well as promote SGAC and the space sector in general.”

What made you apply to the 4th ESGW?

“I really saw it as a great opportunity to meet a lot of European students and young professionals in the field. I really wanted to network and get in contact with other people and see how we could help each other out and perhaps even collaborate later on in the European community. It felt like a great way to build bridges between the SGAC members in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe.”

What did you enjoy the most about the workshop?

“Oh I loved the diversity of it, in the different workshop topics, the different expert presentations, the wide variety of panels and of course the delegates themselves. It was exactly what I hoped for, because there were people from all sectors of the space industry! It was great to discuss and find out different views that people had concerning the different topics, and even just in the one workshop that I was a part of there were already a number of interesting views.”

What were your biggest take-aways from the event?

“It was a great way to discover what Europe, and the UK in particular, is currently working on. I had no idea about the size of the UK space industry and the different things that they do there. Also, learning about the problems discussed in the different working groups and the solutions and recommendations that people came up with really opened my eyes to the different challenges that we face as an industry.”

What’s next? Was there anything in particular you were inspired to do, either as part of SGAC or in your career?

“I would really like to communicate the opportunities in Europe to the local young professionals and students and make them aware of the possibilities that are out there. And on a more personal level it has made me aware of new challenges in my own field and I have gotten some ideas for possible future career moves, so I will likely look into that in the near future and explore these new and exciting opportunities.”

Zainab Mavani, Merck Scholarship Winner

To start with, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your involvement with SGAC before the workshop?

I have just completed my undergraduate degree in Neuroscience from the University of Leeds. I have long held an interest in space, and I am currently involved on the committee of UK Space LABS, an organisation focusing on the advancement of space life and biomedical sciences research. I’ve had no previous involvement with SGAC – the E-SGW was my first SGAC event! I had heard of SGAC before and wanted to get involved, and so when I heard about the E-SGW I applied straight away.

What made you apply to the 4th ESGW?

The workshop themes definitely interested me, particularly the space medicine and space policy and sustainability themes. Coming from a neuroscience/biomedical background, space medicine is an area that I find fascinating, but I was also keen to learn more about different areas of the space sector, and saw the E-SGW as a chance to do this. It’s really great that events like this exist so you get a broader understanding of the field, which can be difficult to do by yourself.

What did you enjoy the most about the workshop?

I really enjoyed the working group sessions that we had over the two days. The exchange of ideas and the different viewpoints that people from a variety of disciplines brought to the discussions meant we had some really thought provoking conversations about our topic. I was in the space medicine working group, and because this area is quite broad, we split into sub-groups to focus on different problems. I was part of the group that looked at how we can measure astronaut intracranial pressure (fluid pressure inside the skull) which tends to rise in microgravity. It was fun to tackle the problem and think outside of the box for solutions to this very unique issue!

What were your biggest takeaways from the event?
From the event I got an appreciation of how vital collaboration is when it comes to the space industry – particularly for big tasks such as cleaning up space debris and working towards the UN sustainable development goals.

What’s next? Was there anything in particular you were inspired to do, either as part of SGAC or in your career?

I am currently in the process of organising a space conference focussing on space physiology and biomedical sciences in space. Attending the E-SGW really inspired me on ways I could run the conference, how to engage people and how to encourage networking and the exchange of ideas, so the E-SGW was a really valuable experience. I also learnt so much about space policy and how we could use space technology on Earth, and so going forward I’d really like to explore that area a bit more!