SpaceUp, 2019

SpaceUp, the international “unconference” that brings together scientists and engineers whose specialties are in space technology, kicked off to a good start at Skoltech’s new campus on Saturday, May 18. This is the third year in a row that Skoltech has hosted this event and it represents another step forward in putting this institute on the academic map and making it a truly international one.

The event consisted of parallel sessions with student presentations, presentations by keynote speakers, as well as two panel discussions towards the end of the conference.

The students’ presentations were extremely varied and covered topics such as space debris, space logistics, space robotics, space industry trends, and many more.

Image by Timur Sabirov: Parallel Sessions

Image by Timur Sabirov: Parallel Sessions

Among the keynote speakers were Associate Professor and Director of Skoltech’s Space Center, Anton Ivanov, who conducted the opening presentation discussing Skoltech Space, and John Moody, an Australian entrepreneur whose company, Moody Space Center, is developing low-cost low-orbit rockets. Other key speakers included Professor Clement Fortin (Skoltech Space Center), Associate Professor Alessandro Golkar (Skoltech Space Center), and Charlotte Kiang, a mission integration engineer and affiliate of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC).

During his presentation, “Robotics for Space Systems,” Professor Fortin talked about Canada’s contribution to the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G), an international project between the United States, Canada, Russia, EU, and Japan. The aim of the project is to build a space station that will orbit the moon and serve as a base for future lunar expeditions; it is to set for completion by 2027-2028. The presentation highlighted Canada’s commitment to space exploration, as it was the first nation to commit to financing the LOP-G project for a 24-year period. Professor Fortin focused upon the importance of using robots for space exploration, especially for conducting relatively dangerous tasks, such as external repairs on a spacecraft. Canada has played an important role in contributing to the development of high-tech robotics for use in space travel, and it was on this note that the presentation ended with the quote, “One small step for robots, one giant leap for mankind!”

Image by Timur Sabirov: Professor Clement Fortin (Skoltech)

Image by Timur Sabirov: Professor Clement Fortin (SSC)

Associate Professor, Alessandro Golkar, discussed space exploration and technology from a more business-oriented perspective, focusing on four key trends: the falling cost of access to space through reusable rockets (SpaceX), the reduced time to access space (conducting launches at 1 month notice instead of 6 months), distribution vs concentration, and the emergence of market oriented approaches to space. On this basis, he pointed to the business opportunities that space has to offer (connecting, positioning, tracking etc.), something that Skoltech startups could take advantage of.

Image by Timur Sabirov: Associate Professor, Alexander Golkar (Skoltech)

Image by Timur Sabirov: Associate Professor, Alexander Golkar (SSC)

Charlotte Kiang, gave a presentation on the commercialization of human spaceflight in the US. Miss Kiang outlined the ultimate goal of opening up spaceflight to private individuals, making it a routine thing. Currently, space tourism is confined mostly to the suborbital market, with costs ranging from 100-250k USD for a single tourist flight. This means that there is some way to go yet before space travel becomes accessible to the broader tourism market, but NASA is supporting the development of a commercial industry through public-private partnerships. Miss Kiang stated that the future expansion of the space tourism market will come with the construction of private space stations and space hotels to support fully commercial missions.

Image by Timur Sabirov: Charlotte Kiang (SpaceX)

Image by Timur Sabirov: Charlotte Kiang (SGAC)

The panel discussions included the above-mentioned keynote speakers, as well as Dr. Sergei Zhukov (Aeronet), Yana Kharlan of Avant Space (Skoltech), Anatoliey Kopik (Sputnix), and Ivan Kosenkov (Skolkovo Foundation). They covered topics such as what could change the future of the space business, the role of space startups in Russia, the role of international startups in the evolution of the space industry around the world, the obstacles facing the development of the new Russian space industry, and many others.

SpaceUp, 2019, served as a platform for key experts to discuss where the space industry is going, especially with regards to the development of new technology and space travel, and the opening up of new markets created by these.

“SpaceUp is an opportunity for students and other participants to learn and exchange ideas for the space sector: technologies, start-ups. For Skoltech, it is a very special event organized by students for the space community.”Professor Clement Fortin, Associate Provost, Dean of Faculty and Postdoctoral Affairs.

The Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) is a private graduate research university. Established in 2011 in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Skoltech cultivates a new generation of researchers and entrepreneurs, promotes advanced scientific knowledge and fosters innovative technology to address critical issues facing Russia and the world in the third millennium. Skoltech applies the best Russian and international research and educational practices, with particular emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation. Web:

Contact information:
Skoltech Communications
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