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International Aeronautical Federation Spring Meeting

Landing in Paris, I was surprised to see cherry blossoms lining along the streets. Charles de Gaulle was busy as usual, if not even busier.

It started off with parallel meetings at the International Academy of Astronautics catching up on meetings and the latest developments over the year. Running parallel across the river was the Moon Village Association on their latest development and news.

As committee members from Space resource to space exploration, from human space flight to entrepreneurship, one could sense the International Aeronautical Federation and strong sense of community. The spring meeting was held at NewCap located a stone throw’s away from Eiffel Tower. It was a wonderful feeling, knowing full well the meeting was along the river.

Delegates entered through the door, greeted by IAF staff and most importantly bidding countries for the next IAC after UAE 2020. The Global Network Forum at the IAF was one of the highlights of the Spring Meeting. The focus was on Geography, Generation and Gender. Launched by the IAF President, Dr. Jean-Yves Le Gall the goal includes:

Geographical diversity and global reach have been traditional features of the IAF since its creation. Attracting the young generation has been in the focus of the IAF during the recent years with manifold newly created activities and programmes tuned to this target community. This has resulted in a significant increase of the number of young people engaged and participating in IAF activities. Gender diversity is still an area where strong progress needs to be achieved. Dedicated promotion of opportunities for female space actors within the Federation and the space sector in general, presenting successful role models and encouraging the young generation of the female space community to aim for leadership positions shall help to reach a balanced and inclusive representation within the governance of the IAF, its Technical and Administrative Committees, as well as the IAC speakers’ and authors’ community.


Implementing the “3G” Diversity Focus as part of the IAF Global Innovation Agenda 2016 – 2019 calls for the creation of an IAF Platform which will allow the Federation to take a leading role in the effort to promote and advance diversity and equality principles amongst a global space community, become an exemplary organisation in terms of geographical, generational, gender and any other diversity aspects, and live up to its motto Connecting @ll Space People.

IAF “3G” IDEA provides a framework for an intensive and open exchange on diversity and equality aspects within the IAF and amongst IAF member organisations as well as potential IAF members and other organisations promoting diversity. On the basis of IAF “3G” IDEA, events of different nature shall be organized during the annual International Astronautical Congress, IAF Global Conferences, IAF Spring Meetings and other occasions, focusing on “3G” diversity topics. Such events can be, but are not limited to:

  • Keynotes or lectures
  • Moderated panel discussions
  • Networking events
  • Mentoring sessions
  • Social events
  • “Diversity” Luncheons or Dinners
  • Competitions and awards ceremonies

Focus of these events shall be to contribute to:

Focus of these events shall be to contribute to:

  • Connecting and engaging space communities in remote areas to IAF activities;
  • Further increasing the involvement of and the offer to the young generation within the Federation and its activities;
    • Reviving the IAF mentoring programme;
  • Attracting specifically the female space community to become active and take over leadership within IAF bodies;
  • Providing an international platform to connect gender diversity organisations from different countries, such as WIA US, WIA Europe, WIA Canada, WIA Africa, WIA Japan, etc.
  • Establishing IAF focus on all diversity aspects and promoting diversity as a basic principle to the entire global space community.

One certainly felt the presence of GNF events and increasing importance also at the Annual IAC conferences. As the IAC2019 would be in DC, there is much anticipation and excitement as it is the 50 years since the Apollo landing.

Once again as a space conference of the greatest breath and depth, the organisers announced that it had the largest number of submitted abstracts well into the 4000s and over 80 plenaries were proposed for 6 slots.

For the upcoming days, particularly on the last day it would be a great challenge for Chairs of committees to select papers for DC. Due to the considerably high numbers of submissions for oral submissions, it has indirectly also resulted in larger number of interactive submissions. What that has caused is almost like a second round of selections, particularly in relation to interactive sessions. It’s important the those whom submit abstracts understand this, because on the contrary to belief, submitting for an interactive session could actually be slightly harder to get accepting, depending on the kind of committee and what the potential category the author submitted their abstract in.

Being part of the process as VP for the Enterprise Risk Management Committee and as Rapporteur for the Space Resources Technologies, Systems, Missions and Policies Committee one can see how the process is not straight forward, particularly as Chairs assess which papers get accepted, put forward for interactive sessions or rejected.

There is an art to this kind of selection. As committee members we sit, discuss and engage in the topics of what is written in the abstract, what is mentioned, what is left out, what needs more work. It is in fact, rather academic, with a healthy dose of practicality as well.

One of the greatest joys in being part of this process is to engage with colleagues from different walks of life, countries and backgrounds in discussing abstracts of mutual interest. For instance, when we discuss risk management, we ask our selves, what is it? What does it mean? How do they access it? What process do they talk to avoid it? Are there contradictions? How can risk managers make better decisions?

The few days flew by, with a few individuals recognised for their achievements, with visions from leaders from various space agencies and also looking forward to UAE2020.

DC is going be great – if we were to access solely based on the abstracts submitted. Even if it’s not that, the fact that the IAC is going to be held in Washington DC is a highlight unto itself. Somehow it seems so appropriate to celebrate 50 years of space in the US. Indirectly we are celebrating the work of NASA and all space agencies or countries whom have contributed to space. Directly, it is about celebration of space and throughout the year we can look forward to events, seminars and upcoming publications on celebrating space.

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Exploring space with Blue Origin



As of end of January 2019, Blue Origin has successfully launched its New Shepard rocket for a tenth time, and with each step, we get closer and closer to sending humans to space.

How will humans explore space?  The rocket takes the capture up to space and inside, there are 6 large windows in which customers will have the view of a life time.  They would experience several minutes of weightlessness, before they drift back to Earth via a parachute.  Spontaneously the rocket that launched would escend back to Earth and touch down on a landing pad, reading for the next lot of passengers.





“They’ll have a day or two of training,” Bezos added. “I’m pushing for a day. I don’t think you need two days of training for this.”

Whilst humans are yet to be flown on the flight, scientific payloads were previously taken on board.

Founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, young and seasoned entrepreneurs are waiting to see how human space flight business model will fare.  Whilst tickets are not on sale, one can anticipate the excitement when it does.  Ariane Cornell, head of astronaut strategy and sales at Blue Origin, highlighted they were not selling tickets yet at a recent panel discussion at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SciTech Forum in San Diego Jan. 8 2019.


Envisaging long term plans, it seems CEO Bezos has more than just human space flight in mind, rather taking cargo into orbit and of course humans.




What do you think of human space flight/ space tourism?

What makes a successful NewSpace entrepreneur?

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Space safety/Space Traffic Management programs




According to Aerospace corporation, “Space traffic management is the classification of services designed to help satellite operators avoid physical or operational conflicts. Commercial, civil, academic, and international entities all contribute to the development of procedures to ensure universal spaceflight safety by creating actionable predictions, early warnings, and sound avoidance maneuvers.”

The implementation and enforcement of space traffic management (STM) policies and regulations will be extremely complex and expensive for governments of spacefaring nations and all users of the near-Earth space domain. Compared to air traffic management, the challenges of managing low-orbital traffic will be orders of magnitude more sophisticated.





The underlying reasons include:

  • High orbital speeds of near-Earth satellites, 25 times greater than jet aircraft
  • Lack of the ability of satellite to responsively execute avoidance maneuvers
  • Difficulty of assessing real-time and precise collision probabilities
  • Presence of millions of uncontrolled and dangerous resident space objects (RSOs) that share the most-congested region of space as operating satellites
  • Complexity of reaching an agreement with all spacefaring nations regarding space traffic issues
  • Development of regulations that are fair and balanced without excessively restricting space traffic and related operations
  • Creation of centralized space traffic controller and enforcement systems
  • Achieving satellite operator compliance related to additional onboard traffic management hardware, operational restrictions and licensing processes





Due to the envisaged growth of smallsat constellations and space craft, including human space flight, some authorities suggest there needs to be great air traffic control regulations, even ‘zones of exception’ for satellite operators.

According to Marshall Kaplan, “It is important to note that most satellites operating in the geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) belt, at about 36,000 kilometers altitude, are already under a space traffic management system. For all practical purposes, GEO spacecraft operate in, or near, the equatorial plane and move in the same direction at the same speed. Since they are synchronous with the Earth’s rotation, STM operations are achieved by simply assigning orbital slots, corresponding to longitudes, over which these satellites remain stationary relative to Earth.”

It is envisaged that the LEO zone, between about 550 kilometers and 1,200 kilometers altitude would be greatly congested.  With more than 10,000 new satellites being prepared for launch into LEOs in the next few years, traffic may well be congested and hence STM is essential in order to guarantee future access and use of the LEO zone.




Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Programme

A European capability to monitor the space environment for hazards, both natural and human-made that could impact assets in orbit or populations and infrastructure on the ground.

Establishment of a space weather (SWE) forecasting service based on existing and to-be-developed assets, including new SWE instruments; a SWE mission to a Lagrange point (L1 or L5); hosted payload missions for SWE instruments; a network of Near Earth Object (NEO) survey telescopes; small satellites for SSA payloads less than 100 kg and Participating States’ subscriptions for 2017–20.




Asteroid Impact Mission

Provide a companion observatory and microlander mission for the NASA DART impactor, which will strike the small moon orbiting the Didymos binary asteroid.



Launch in 2020 and encounter with Didymos in 2022.


The mission provides a first essay of planetary defence, an international cooperation, science and education return and a test for advanced planetary exploration technologies.


Cleaning space

e.Deorbit/Tug Maturation Phase

Remove a single large ESA-owned debris from orbit, which will be the first-ever active debris removal mission.

Completion of Phase-B2 definition, ready for implementation by 2019.


A high-profile mission providing large visibility on the global stage for all actors involved. It will place European industry at the forefront of the world’s active removal efforts and space tug applications, providing a competitive advantage for all industry involved.


ESA concept for active debris deorbit mission



What do you think are the challenges/opportunities in Space Traffic management?

What do you think makes a successful Newspace startup?


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GSA funding opportunity: Multi-frequency multipurpose antenna for Galileo – Timing & Synchronisation (T&S)

time 3


gsa 1



Meanwhile, recent advances in GNSS antenna technology are enabling higher flexibility and adaptability, and the future trend is towards the development of multi-purpose antennas that can be used in different platforms and applications. For example, two user-segments that can clearly benefit from these advances are the mass-market for dual-frequency GNSS chipsets (smartphones, portable devices), and the professional market associated with future autonomous vehicles (cars, drones, ships, trains, and tractors).

time 1



Two user groups

The objective of this call for proposals is to further develop Galileo-enabled multi-frequency antennas, close to market, for mass-market and professional applications.

This call for proposal aims at launching up to two projects to develop, test and assess advanced multi-frequency, multi-constellation antennas dedicated to these user groups.

In particular, the project aims to develop and test advanced antenna technology that is:

  • capable of coping with at least the frequencies L1/E1, L5/E5 and E6 (except for the mass market, where at least L1/E1 and L5/E5 should be used);
  • multi-constellation (Galileo and GPS, as a minimum), including additional innovations at the antenna level optimised for one or more mass-market and professional applications; and
  • Commercially ready with a competitive cost.


Fundamental Elements call: At a glance

  • Market segment: Transversal
  • Deadline for submission of proposals: 08 March 2019
  • Expected signature of contract: August to October 2019
  • Maximum budget allocated: EUR 2.800.000
  • Maximum number of projects: 2
  • EU financing amount for each of the two projects: up to EUR 2.800.000 (70% co-funding)
  • Webinar date: 27 November 2018

Timing & Synchronisation (T&S)

GNSS can be used to provide both timing and synchronisation. On the timing side, GNSS provides direct and accurate access to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). On the other hand, synchronisation between receivers at different locations can be established and maintained using GNSS reference time. As a result of these uses, many Telecom and Energy networks now rely on GNSS for synchronization operations, while financial institutions use GNSS to timestamp transactions.

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Autonomous Ships




Autonomous Ships, unmanned vessels, there are so many ways to discuss autonomous shipping that we almost have to remind ourselves the discussion over definitions is not quite yet over.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the UN agency in charge of providing a global forum on discussion of rules is undertaking a ‘scoping exercise’ to explore whether any of its regulations should be changed for autonomous ships.

The research effort will first review IMO rules to see whether they apply to Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) and would preclude MASS operations. The exercise will then “determine the most appropriate way of addressing MASS operations,” says IMO spokeswoman Natasha Brown.

autonomous ship 2.jpeg


IMO has a commitment to ensuring that benefits offered by emerging technologies can be fully realized but without compromising safety, security or environmental protection,” Brown says. “So the decision to take a scoping exercise was prompted by the need to take a proactive and leading role, given the rapid technological developments relating to the introduction of commercially operated ships in autonomous/unmanned mode.”

At the 99th session of its Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 99) in May, a group was formed to start the exercise and provided an update in December.  IMO member states are conducting the exercise with the support of IMO staff, with inputs from governmental and non-governmental organisations.  The study is expected to finish by 2020.  Much of the exploration would consider the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREG).

Rolls- Royce has been pioneering in this field, particularly in relation to the digitalisation, design and operations of this.  More recently they have set up the Research & Development Centre for Autonomous Ships in Finland and as part of their work is reaching out to explore partnerships. research collaboration and business networks.  Other organisations include DNVGL and well-known projects include the MUNIN project.

Image result for autonomous shipping



How about in Japan?  The private sector has been very active with examples of the following:

  • Nippon Foundation looks to funding autonomous ship research, raising public awareness and made joint announcements at Sea Japan 2018 from 11-13 April highlighting potential opportunities in Autonomous shipping. Executive Director of The Nippon Foundation, Mitsuyuki Unno and Secretary of State of the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Norway, Daniel Bjarmann- Simonsen spoke with Bjarmann-Simonsen sharing, “We’re also about to enter the autonomous shipping revolution, some argue that the autonomous ship will change our industry like the smart phone has changed life on the planet,.” 

According to Director Unno, “It’s mostly the specialists that are in talks about autonomous vessels and I would like to open it up to the public and I think it’s one of the roles of the Nippon Foundation to get more information out to the public,” Unno explained. “Much of the public in Japan does not know about autonomous vessels, it equals it not existing, almost.”




  • The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism (MLIT) has selected a joint demonstration project proposed by Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and partners on autonomous shipping.  Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology (TUMST), and Akishima Laboratories (Mitsui Zosen) are involved in the project, which is associated with automated and autonomous operations of vessels’ berthing and un-berthing activities.   It was selected for MLIT’s FY2018 autonomous vessel demonstration project and will aim to bring vessels with autonomous berthing and un-berthing service by 2025.

According to MOL,

“Human errors account for 80% of marine accidents, and since automated and autonomous operations of vessels can significantly reduce human errors, they have the potential to make a great contribution to reducing marine accidents.

“Furthermore, autonomous operations hold great promise in reducing the workload for mariners, and represent a fundamental change in ocean transport.” v1.jpeg



  • NYK and NYK Group companies MTI Co. Ltd, Keihin Dock Co. Ltd and Japan Marine Science Inc  have also been selected to participate in a demonstration project utilising ship manoeuvring support functions and remote control by 2025.

About the NYK Group’s Initiatives
With the aim to pursue efficient, safe operations and reduce crew workload, NYK and NYK Group companies MTI and JMS have been using advanced technology to develop an autonomous ship, including a study on collision risk judgement and the autonomous operation of vessels, a study that is being conducted together with three nautical instrument manufacturers in Japan and has been selected for sponsorship by MLIT. The NYK Group applied to participate in MLIT’s new project because one of the NYK Group’s studies has entered the demonstration stage prior to implementation.

– About the Demonstration
To date, the NYK Group has been working with nautical instrument manufacturers and partners to develop a manned remotely controlled system that can support the crew. Such a system would collect, integrate, and analyze information around the ship, prepare an action plan, and after the approval of operators at remote locations or on board, take action in accordance with the plan. This demonstration aims to make use of this system in an actual situation.




Other companies selected to take part in the project includes:

* Companies selected to participate in the demonstration project for remotely controlled ship include MTI Co. Ltd., Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NK), Port and Airport Research Institute, Ikous Corporation, NYK, Keihin Dock Co. Ltd., Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Niigata Power Systems Co. Ltd., Uzushio Electric Co. Ltd., SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, Tokyo Keiki Inc., Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, NTT DOCOMO, Inc., Japan Radio Co. Ltd., Furuno Electric Co. Ltd., and Japan Marine Science Inc.

To what extent would the Quasi- Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) play a role in maritime navigation systems?  As QZSS is meant to be a centimetre level augmentation service (CLAS) it is meant to ensure even better accurate positioning.  With its’ application in autonomous shipping, it could prove to be of vital importance particularly as current work on demonstration projects are underway.  Whilst the initial usage of autonomous shipping is surrounding berthing and unberthing, the long term vision for autonomous shipping extends to commercial and international shipping and hence such vigorous tests are needed to ensure reliability and predictability.


Image result for QZSS


source: QZSS

Whilst autonomous shipping even at present is considered primarily R&D, for those wishing to strategically position themselves in the future market of shipping, there is no denying that autonomous ships or ‘smart ships’ are foreseen in the future.  And it is in line with autonomous developments in relation to vehicles on roads, air and space.

Whilst the law may vary, discussed and eventually changed, in the meantime, the focus is on the technology.  Discussions with stakeholders and I would go as far as with cross sector industries is important, to ensure smooth transitions and developments such as traffic management systems.  It is a hot topic in space, though one can foresee how technologies do not fit neatly in a box.  With onset discussions on hybrid vessels, that mount on land as in sea, or those that cross breed from sea to air, policy makers, engineers and entrepreneurs need to be open to discussions on this.

Is the IMO the best forum to discuss autonomous shipping?  Only time will tell, in the meantime, all interested stakeholders be it actually out at sea, or land or in space has an important role to play and that is to contribute and voice their concerns in the developments so to assist the global community to come to some forum of consensus in which to move forward.


source: IMO

From an entrepreneurial angle, it is important that any of these discussions do not impede or invalidate tests or experiments at sea, as now is the crucial time for startups and entrepreneurs to test the waters, so to speak.


What do you think makes a successful Newspace entrepreneur?

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