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Luxembourg at the Forefront of the NewSpace Dynamic, Part II

Space industry specialist have made the trip from all over Europe and beyond to attend the third edition of the Space Forum, a two-day event held in Luxembourg on May 21 and 22, aimed at promoting exchanges and triggering debates between all the active forces of the sector. Three main topics were addressed during the second day of the event: Services for Agriculture, Transportation & IoT, Space entrepreneurs, and Space Data.

Services to benefit Agriculture, Transportation & IoT

Serving as master of ceremony, Michele Franci, Independent International Space and Telecommunications Consultant, introduced the morning sessions dedicated to space and Earth Observation-based services. "Space-based instruments are collecting more and more data to improve travel, services, agriculture and provide innovative services to various sectors", he said. "In today’s hyper connected and fast-moving world, the need for monitoring, remote management, data gathering, and transport grow exponentially, and satellite-based systems, in particular SmallSat for Low-Earth orbits, can offer unmatched opportunities". Following this introduction to the topic, Michele Franci passed the floor to the first speaker of the day.

"Conversation counts", stated Ian Freeman, External Relations Officer at the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). "It is clear that the future of space is commercial. With the increasing weight of the private sector, the ecosystem of stakeholders has become rich of both existing and emerging space nations. All these stakeholders must have a conversation, notably for working on measures and mechanisms relating to satellite registration and space debris mitigation", he said. UNOOSA targets part of its efforts on space-derived services for development: "Space can support the achievement of approximately 40% of the UN Sustainable Development Goal and associated targets", Ian Freeman underlined. The needs that be addressed by space technology or data include disaster management, water management, agriculture, health and medicine, fisheries, natural resources monitoring, and urban planning and cadaster.

For Rob Coneybeer, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Shasta Ventures, the key challenge for space is to dramatically improve autonomous operation via the addition of robotic technologies. "AI and machine learning technologies recently reached a tipping point, leading to all of the self-driving prototypes we see everywhere", he said, "but we need better autonomous operation than we have today". To bridge the gap, Rob Coneybeer advocates the use of a technology that allows humans and robots to work together, Supervised Autonomy. Partial teleoperation allows for regular switching between drone and robot functionality, with human oversight and additional IT tools. "The future isn’t “either/or”, he said. "The good news is that we won't get a sudden reduction in transportation jobs. They will shift to more and more teleoperation tasks, to Supervised Autonomy, over the next few decades. And in the meantime, we will have less highway deaths, better jobs, and better environment protection", he concluded.

"Why and how should Earth Observation data extend from the scientific area"? This was the question raised by Benjamin Hourte, Technology Director of EarthLab Luxembourg.  "We have to adopt a digital entrepreneur mind and consider applications not as software but as assemblies of easy to replace and scalable components", he said. According to him, we must stop considering Earth Observation data has a value, consider Big Data as a must have asset and not as end-user service, integrate Cognitive Analytics as any classical algorithm, and break the persistent view that agility solves everything. We have to move to an enabler view, consider Big Data as normal capability, ease the creation and use of AI models, and be really agile by adapting to changing situations and needs.

 

Insights from entrepreneurs in the Space industry

"Our company is a new player in the NewSpace race", told Alexandre Tisserant, CEO of Kinéis, "but we are the direct inheritors of CLS’s 40 years of experience in geo-location and data collection". In the 1980s, CLS and CNES – the French space agency - created the ARGOS system, laying the foundations for what would later become IoT. CLS has used the ARGOS satellite system to track hundreds of thousands of connected objects before GPS or Galileo even existed. "Today’s IoT offer is difficult to use, yet the needs exist", said Alexandre Tisserant. "How do you find a lost container? How do you remotely control the temperature of a container transporting perishable goods? How do you track down a fishing boat in distress? How can a hiker in Nepal share his trip with his friends and family in real time?", he asked.  To address these issues, Kinéis offers a solution for collecting data from all sorts of objects everywhere on the globe, whatever the conditions. Kinéis connectivity draws on a new satellite constellation of 20 nanosatellites equipped with a new tailor-made communication technology for connected objects. The constellation will be in orbit in 2021 and Kinéis plans to connect several million objects around the globe by 2030, becoming a leader in the new space race.

Tyvak specializes in spacecraft development, launch services and on-orbit operations. "We deliver small satellites for critical missions across a variety of applications in LEO, GEO and beyond Earth orbit, and vehicle classes, including nanosatellites and microsatellites", explained Marco Villa, CEO of Tyvak International. Tyvak provides end-to-end, cost effective space systems using agile aerospace processes. "We collaborate closely with our customers and leverage a lean infrastructure to develop and manufacture advanced satellite systems", said Marco Villa. The company has a proven track record of 203 small satellites launched worldwide, 24,000 square feet of ISO 8 clean room, 10,000 square feet of precision manufacturing, and more than 74 missions enabled.

"Midstream oil, gas and utilities companies have limited monitoring over their assets", said Omar Qaise, CEO and Founder of OQ Technology. This is due to the limited availability of communication infrastructure in remote areas, high cost of deploying communication links, and high-power requirement of traditional wireless networks. OQ Technology helps solve these issues though a global constellation of low-cost nano-satellites. "Our connectivity hubs allow to cover large areas, offering customers wide visibility of their assets and the possibility to communicate with their sensors and actuators in near real-time", explained Omar Qaise. OQ's turn-key solution is scalable and the platform gives access to a multitude of data dimensions ranging from sensor data, remote sensing data, earth imagery and even social media to extract the maximum value required for business decision-making.

Before the lunch break, David Goldsmith took the stage for an inspiring and passionate session aptly titled Project Moon Hut – Accelerating the Earth-Space Ecosystem and the Promise of Hope for Earth’s Future. A Consultant, coach and entrepreneur, David Goldsmith is also the author of "Paid to Think: A Leader Toolkit for Redefining Your Future", in which he presents new perspectives to leaders and managers, replacing the so-called traditional leadership techniques.