19 October, 2016

The Space Generation Advisory Council hosted its 15th Space Generation Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico from 22-24 September. The sold out event, which took place at the Holiday Inn Expo, welcomed 151 delegates from 34 countries, 75 of which had received a scholarship from SGAC or one of its partners.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Day 1 - The SGC Kicks Off

Following delegate registration, the Congress was opened by the SGAC Executive Director, Minoo Rathnasabapathy. Ms. Rathnasabapathy introduced the SGAC Chair, Stephanie Wan, and SGAC Co-Chair, Ali Nasseri, who introduced the history of the SGAC to the audience and explained how SGAC achieves its goals. The Space Generation Congress Manager, Carmen Felix, took the stage to give an overview of the SGC programme, to share the intended outcomes for the UN COPUOS, and to thank the organising team for their efforts.

Afterwards, Ms. Felix introduced the first presenter of the day, Rosa Maria Ramirez de Arellano Y Haro (AEM), who spoke about UNISPACE+50 and the importance of the upcoming meeting in 2018.

Mr. Nasseri then welcomed Lluc Diaz, an ESA Technology Transfer Programme Office Engineer, to the stage to discuss technology transfer.


Left: Rosa Maria Ramirez de Arellano Y Haro (AEM), Right: Lluc Diaz (ESA TTPO)

Following these presentations, thanks to the support of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, a coffee break was held to enable participants to discuss the morning activities.

After the break, participants separated into their working groups. The “Proving Ground” working group (supported by NASA AES) opened with two presentations; the first by Armando Delgado (University of Texas) and the second one by Erin Mahoney (NASA AES). Thereupon, the group did a round table introduction of each delegate, their profession and affiliation, and the perspectives of human space exploration from their countries or organizations. On that occasion, the participants broke into four groups to focus their discussions on specific topics of interest.  

The “UNISPACE+50: Shared Vision, Common Action Working Group” (sponsored by Secure World Foundation), opened with a presentation from Ms. Rathnasabapathy explaining the importance of UNISPACE+50 to the organisation. She was followed by Christopher Johnson (Secure World Foundation), who explained the process and mechanisms of UNISPACE+50.  Delegates introduced themselves, and initial discussions began. Sub-groups were formed to initially identify high level ideas, followed by a full group discussion.


The “Space Situational Awareness: Global Responses to Global Challenges” working group (supported by the Mexican Space Agency) acknowledged that SSA has been gaining attention globally among various stakeholders. SSA presents challenges, both in the near and the long term, and also presents opportunities in international cooperation and diplomacy. The Working Group identified major challenges and suggested approaches to tackle the issue, encompassing technical and policy perspectives. Further, the goals were to narrow their focus area and develop a more detailed architecture that will hinge on international cooperation.

The first day of activities at the “Spectrum and Operational Challenges with the Emergence of Small Satellites” working group (supported by NASA Space Communications and Navigation), started with an entertaining icebreaker session followed by the introduction of personnel and experts. Krystal Wilson (Secure World Foundation) explained the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) processes and its current challenges. This was followed by brainstorming notes on the lessons learned from the talk. The follow-up working session was spent on finding value propositions for the main stakeholders in the spectrum topic. The day concluded with the consensus that the working group is trying to make “educate to participate” in spectrum allocation the main work package.


Finally, the “Space Entrepreneurship: Tapping the Commercial Potential of Earth Observation Downstream Markets” working group began with a presentation by Yusuke Muraki (JAXA) on the basics of Earth Observation technology and market. The group then engaged in stakeholder mapping, dividing them into providers, applications, and users. Lluc Diaz (ESA Technology Transfer Programme Office) gave an overview of ESA’s accelerator and incubator programmes for startups. An open discussion among the group explored the market for Earth Observation and how to break out into new non-space markets.

Delegates then went to the Holiday Inn Expo courtyard to enjoy lunch, sponsored by Arianespace.

After lunch, delegates returned to the main hall for presentations by SGAC scholarship winners. First to take the stage was Simon Molgat Laurin, winner of the Move an Asteroid scholarship. His presentation, titled “A Gravity-Surveying Surface Lander for Near Earth Asteroids” explored the GRavimetric Asteroid Surveying Probe (GRASP) being developed for NEA missions.

Next up was Carlos Manuel Entrena Utrilla, winner of the $pace is Business scholarship. Mr. Entrena Utrilla redefined COTS as Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, and discussed how Asteroid Mining COTS can be used to complement Cislunar COTS in the space economy.

Octavio Ponce Madrigal, winner of the OHB-Systems Scholarship, was next with a presentation on “Multiple-Input Multiple-Output Circular SAR for High Altitude Pseudo Satellites”. He presented the outcome of experiments using High-Altitude Pseudo-Satellites, Single Channel Circular SAR, and Multiple-Input Multiple-Output CSAR.

Finally, Alice Barthe, the second OHB-Systems Scholarship winner, closed the afternoon session with her presentation on “GEO Space Debris Mapping with Space-Based Phased-Array RADAR”. She discussed how orbital debris could be catalogued using a space-based RADAR.

From left: Octavio Ponce Madrigal, Simon Molgat Laurin, Alice Barthe, and Carlos Manuel Entrena Utrilla

After the afternoon session presentations, delegates returned to their working groups. Midway in the work period, delegates took a group photo in the courtyard, followed by an afternoon coffee break, and ended the day with a final working session. 

15th Space Generation Congress Group Photo


Day 2 - Working Group Activities and Culture Night

The second day of the congress began with a short welcome from SGAC Chair, Stephanie Wan, before delegates returned to their working groups for another productive session. After the morning coffee break, delegates returned to the main auditorium for presentations from invited guests.

SGAC alumni and JAXA space engineer, Yusuke Muraki, spoke on “How Can the Space Generation Contribute to Promote Earth Observation Downstream Markets?”. Mr. Muraki acted as the Subject Matter Expert for the “Space Entrepreneurship: Tapping the Commercial Potential of Earth Observation Downstream Markets” working group, and through his presentation shared his experience tackling this specific problem.

Yusuke Muraki (JAXA)

President of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), Kiyoshi Higuchi, then took the stage to talk about “Success-ology for Space Programmes”. Dr. Higuchi emphasized the goal of a space project is not to avoid failure, but to succeed overall. He proposed changing the culture within engineering to be more accepting of failure, and using it as a driver for future success.

Krystal Wilson, project manager at Secure World Foundation, closed the morning session by discussing “Overview: Radio Frequency Spectrum”. Some of the key points from her presentation included that radio frequencies are a limited resource, subject to intentional, unintentional, and natural interference.  


Left: Kiyoshi Higuchi (IAF), Right: Krystal Wilson (SWF)

After the presentations, delegates returned for another working group session, and then enjoyed another lunch on the Holiday Inn Expo’s terrace.

Working group sessions were scheduled for the rest of the afternoon with one more invited speaker session by Daniel Oltrogge, Space Data Centre Program Manager and Senior Research Astrodynamicist at Analytical Graphics, Inc.

The working groups reported their progress at the end of day two. The “Proving Ground” working group started off the first session of the day by having all sub-groups meet together to have an open discussion and feedback of each group’s ideas. The working group had been separated into 4 sub-groups on day 1. The sub-group topic areas were, respectively: to determine priority human crew activities with anticipated elements, to determine activities during dormancy periods with anticipated elements, to identify required infrastructure for global collaboration, and to discuss a government/management structure for global collaboration in the proving ground. After an exchange of ideas and feedback, the working group split up into two groups and began to narrow down the ideas and concepts to eventually come up with recommendations. The final result was two-fold: a suggested, two-year mission architecture which would maximize the use of anticipated elements in the proving ground as well as foster global participation, and a set of recommendations for organized collaboration on cis-lunar activities.

The “UNISPACE+50: Shared Vision, Common Action” working group group kicked off the day's discussions by establishing a unified vision for SGAC.  From there, objectives were derived in order to be able to reach this vision, and ideas for actions to enable the completion of the objectives. The vision was revisited and discussed several times to ensure it was representative of a unified statement. Sub-groups conducted deep discussions on the individual objectives and actions which could be taken by SGAC in support of these, and developed presentation slides to effectively show the final product.


On day 2 the "Spectrum and Operational Challenges with the Emergence of Small Satellites” working group engaged in fleshing out the technical details and establishing recommendations. The participants were split in three groups. The first group’s focus was to compare and contrast spectrum filing processes of different countries and regions of the world (Mexico, USA, EU). The second group focused on describing radiofrequency interference, giving examples of the problem and determining interference sources and mitigation options. The third group worked on describing the frequency allocation process and outlining a possible interactive tool to allow newcomers to engage in the allocation process in a simple way. Each group then appointed a delegate for the final presentation.

For the “Space Entrepreneurship: Tapping the Commercial Potential of Earth Observation Downstream Markets” working group, day 2 discussions seeked to answer several questions regarding the potential of the Earth Observation (OE) market. The group looked into the obstacles in transitioning OE services from governments to the commercial market, and how each player could help this process. The question of how to fully exploit OE data available was also addressed, and so was the balance needed between growing the EO commercial market and making EO data available to the general public and NGOs which need it.  While addressing these questions the group mapped challenges in the processes and disused solutions and recommendations.

Finally, the “Space Situational Awareness: Global Responses to Global Challenges” working group dedicated day 2 to finalising the recommendations and closing the content. The group focused on the space debris issues of SSA, and had the chance to talk to several subject matter experts such as Chris Johnson and Joao Lousada. This helped give the team a better view of the policy challenges of space debris and make sure that the team’s final set of recommendations provide a new vision for the UN. The group completed an analysis of the different actors involved, and devised new ways to solve the most pressing issues of the space debris problem.

After the end of day two, participants reconvened for International Night and spent the remainder of the evening sharing their countries’ customs, culture, food, and beverages.


Day 3 - Final Presentations and the SGC Closing Dinner

The third and final day kicked off with a round of presentations by SGC scholarship winners. First up was Edward Michael Barks, winner of the Space Solar Power scholarship, on “Thin-Film Photovoltaic Array Solar Power Satellite with Phased Array Wireless Power Transfer”.

James Murdza, ispace scholarship winner, then took the stage to discuss “Feasibility of a Lunar Refueling Station for Earth-Mars Trajectories”.


Left: Edward Michael Barks, Right: James Murdza

After another productive working group session, Brett Biddington, President of the Local Organising Committee for the 2017 IAC in Adelaide, talked to delegates about “Australia’s Place in Space: Past, Present, Future”. Mr. Biddington highlighted Australia’s work with satellites, particularly the ground stations based there.

Next to take the stage was Jason Crusan, Director of NASA Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Division. He touched on many of the activities being conducted through NASA Advanced Exploration Systems.

The session closed with a presentation by Dr. Michael Hawes, Vice President & Orion Program Manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, who shared the recent progress on the Orion spacecraft.


Left: Jason Crusan (NASA AES), Right: Dr. Michael Hawes (Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company)

Delegates then returned for their last working group sessions, where they prepared for their final presentations in the afternoon. The groups took turns in the main hall to practice and receive feedback before finalizing their work.

After one last coffee break, Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES and President-elect of the International Astronautical Federation, gave an inspiring presentation for the Space Generation.

Jean-Yves Le Gall (CNES)

Finally, working groups were invited to present their findings from the past three days.

The “Proving Ground” (sponsored by NASA AES) discussed the concept of the Proving Ground as a means to innovate, demonstrate, and validate capabilities for long-duration deep space exploration involving humans. The working group made five recommendations which will be published in their final report in the upcoming months:

  1. All governmental entities or agencies with cis-lunar ambitions and all private companies with advanced plans for cis-lunar activities should immediately discuss their intentions, goals, and resources.

  2. Orbit Allocation & Situational Awareness: Actors should ensure a safe and efficient management of resources, namely the management of orbits and situational awareness in cis-lunar space.

  3. Compatibility & Standardization: Actors should work towards compatible systems in the view of a shared utilization of systems. Such collaboration could include the development of standards.

  4. Collaboration: Actors should collaborate to develop common mission architectures, and to enable and promote the participation of a growing diversity of actors including developing countries.

  5. Governance: Actors should elect or designate among them an inclusive committee which shall monitor and facilitate the development of cis-lunar activities. This committee should be given the power to supervise and facilitate the management of high level operations which impact all actors in cis-lunar space.

 The Proving Ground Working Group

Next, the “UNISPACE+50: Shared Vision, Common Action” working group (sponsored by Secure World Foundation), presented their findings. They discussed several objectives which tied together the space economy, society, accessibility, and diplomacy and how the SGAC could be involved. These objectives include:

  1. Strengthening the outer space regime by reaching agreement on common and shared interests and goals

  2. International cooperation should become the norm, and recognized as a long-term investment and beneficial for everyone. The recommendation is to encourage diversity of the players involved in space projects with the support of the countries, and encourage the creation of projects with players of both developed and emergent countries, within the limits of their capabilities.

  3. Space activities should be, and be known as, a significant source of socio-economic benefits for all of humankind.

  4. Encourage all countries to build capacity in the space sector and place space topics on their national political agenda. This may be achieved by raising awareness of benefits to policy makers, knowledge sharing between nations, and space capacity building activities.

  5. The space sector should be a leading force in major technology development.


UNISPACE+50: Shared Vision, Common Action Working Group 

“Space Situation Awareness: Global Responses to Global Challenges” working group (supported by the Mexican Space Agency) spoke on the definition of Space Situational Awareness, how it is currently managed worldwide, and frameworks to facilitate interoperability and data sharing. This working group’s recommendations are:

  1. Promoting space safety and comprehensive space object monitoring to the benefit of all actors in the space sector via the establishment of a global entity.

  2. Establish a unified global entity to monitor space objects in a comprehensive manner and provide incentives for mitigation.

 Space Situation Awareness: Global Responses to Global Challenges Working Group 

“Spectrum and Operational Challenges with the Emergence of Small Satellites” gave a dynamic presentation on their findings. They identified that the radio frequency spectrum is being stressed by the emergence of small satellites and satellite constellations, which could lead to the increase of frequency interference. Currently, the process of frequency allocation and the procedure are costly and costly. The group recommended:

  1. Developing an educational tool with easy-to-understand guidelines on policy/process, frequency allocation, and interference mitigation that empowers and enables new space participants.

  2. Streamline international and national processes to encourage and enable new space participants.

  3. Share best practices and standards to minimize the risk of frequency interference.

  4. Promote transparency on frequency availability to enhance access and equality through innovative avenues of allocation.

  5. Create a central resource that features international and state by state policy and procedures for frequency allocation of the radio spectrum.

 Spectrum and Operational Challenges with the Emergence of Small Satellites Working Group 

Last, but certainly not least, “Space Entrepreneurship: Tap the Commercial Potential of Earth Observation Downstream Markets”, shared their ideas on how to attract new players into the Earth Observation sector, promote more awareness of the benefits of Earth Observation, facilitate international cooperation, and utilize data to its full potential. The working group recommended:

  1. Create an international organisation to facilitate interacton between EO-interested partners.

  2. Create regional platforms for data, funding, and communication.

  3. Develop a problem-based approach focusing on the demands of various regions/customers and allowing for cross-sector collaboration.

  4. Support from local government and donor organisations via funding, knowledge, connections, and discussion forums.

  5. Complete data solutions from both space and non-space data providers as well as data processors to enable development of complete solutions.

 Space Entrepreneurship: Tap the Commercial Potential of Earth Observation Downstream Markets Working Group 

While the working groups have completed their final presentations at SGC, the teams will continue to work together over the next few months to develop comprehensive reports. These reports with the group’s recommendations will then be presented to the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space over the coming year, as well will be made available on the SGAC website.

SGAC’s Executive Director, Minoo Rathnasabapathy, and Chairs Stephanie Wan and Ali Nasseri, then took to the stage to make some final remarks. SGC Manager, Carmen Felix, then closed the day with her final remarks, thanking the organising committee for their hardwork in making the event possible.

No SGC is complete without its Closing Dinner event, this year held at Hacienda La Providencia. SGC delegates, and invited guests from industry, came together to enjoy dinner with live entertainment and keynote speeches. The SGAC was extremely pleased to have the evening opened with remarks from Francisco Javier Mendieta Jiménez, Director General of the Mexican Space Agency. David Kendall, Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space also gave a keynote speech, followed by Charles Bolden, Administrator of NASA, who received a standing ovation.


Left: Minoo Rathnasabapathy addressing guests, Right: Francisco Javier Mendieta Jiménez (AEM)

With that, the 15th Space Generation Congress came to a close. The SGAC thanks all of its sponsors and supporters that made the Congress possible, including the organising team that worked hard over several months. Special thanks to Carmen Felix, and Arnau Pons Lorente, who spent many hours of the past year planning the event. And of course, a very special thank you to the Minoo Rathnasabapathy, Stephanie Wan, and Ali Nasseri.

We look forward to the 16th Space Generation Congress in Adelaide, Australia in 2017!


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