On September 15th, a phyigtal edition of Space Forum took place from Luxembourg and was broadcasted in the entire world. Several local and international experts shared their knowledge and discussed the latest space trends. During the first day of Space Forum, they notably focused on 5G and next level applications, open access to space and space applications for Maritime and IoT services.

Satellite technology for 5G & next level applications

Moderator of the day Olivier Lemaire (Partner, Technology, Media and Telecommunications, EY Luxembourg) introduced the topic and explained that the space and telco industries are now interacting and that they are complementary in the development and roll out of 5G. “Companies like Amazon, SpaceX, OneWeb, etc. have understood these opportunities and are already exploiting them with telco providers. 5G, thanks to LEO satellites will cover more areas and will also serve as a backup network in case of natural disaster,” he added. He ended his introduction with a word on Luxembourg which launched its NewSpace initiative several years ago, which he described as “a big bet showing the entrepreneurial spirit of Luxembourg”.

Olivier Lemaire then welcomed Jean-Jacques Dordain (Advisory board member, spaceresources.lu & Former Director-General of ESA (2003-2015), Member of the French Académie des Technologies, Chancellor of the ISU). “A lot has changed in the last month, especially in the space sector: three missions to Mars have been launched and two of them by China and the Emirates, OneWeb is on its way to be recovered, Europe launched 53 satellites together, SpaceX and NASA have launched Dragon, etc. It was therefore time to meet and discuss these new initiatives,” highlighted the expert.

"Space for 5G - how does it work ?" was the name of the presentation given by Antonio Franchi (Head of Future Programmes Acquisition, part of the Telecommunications & Integrated Applications Directorate, European Space Agency). The expert first gave an overview of the 5G economy and satellite opportunity: “5G enables an inclusive, sustainable and competitive global economy”. He shared the 5G essential building blocks and states: “ESA R&D scheme supports industry in innovative technology developments that are key for the integration of satellites with terrestrial networks and future services applications”. What’s in it for innovative companies? The program has 100+M euros available to support the development of products, services and applications to capitalize on the global 5G opportunity.

Sébastien Denis (Business Director, CGI ) and Jaime Reed (Director Consulting Services, CGI) then took the stage and focused on the "Creation of new value added services for customers with 5G". Mr. Denis started by explaining the differences between 4G and 5G: “speed and the interaction between the different elements we use every day. For instance, with 5G, the vehicles will be able to interact with the roads, signs, pedestrians, etc. And also vehicle to vehicle. It is also possible with a strong connectivity, and 5G will allow it”. Jaime Reed added: “5G is going to be extremely transformative: it will bring a greater bandwidth, more reliability, lower latency and it will bring the widespread use of massive machine-to-machine communications. It’s only really possible with space but it requires technology developments to get there”.

Prof. Symeon Chatzinotas (Chief Scientist and Co-Head of the SIGCOM Research Group)’s presentation was entitled "Satellite Communications in the 5G Era". He focused on 5G game-changing technologies: softwarization (networking, joint network and satellite operations, etc.), virtualization (cloudification, network function, etc.), open interfaces (allow new entrants, richer ecosystems, etc.) and interoperability (holy grain in Satcoms, any terminal, any satellite, any hub, etc.). The expert then discussed the SnT’s involvement on the topic of cutting-edge research on SatCom and 5G.

His Excellency Mr. François Rivasseau (Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations Office at Geneva) and Stephane Anjuere (5G Venture Lead, Thales Alenia Space) then discussed 5G technologies. It was moderated by Gabriel de Maigret (Telecom Audit Partner, EY Luxembourg). According to the ambassador, “all the infrastructure that goes with 5G will be essential to aggregate all the data, and 5G stations will facilitate the diffusion of identical content”. He also added: “5G should also remain affordable and therefore to be used to connect the entire world and especially the populations that need it the most”.  He also discussed the cybersecurity risks of 5G networks and the exchange of data between space and Earth. “For 5G to be fully operational, we need to make sure the system is secure”. Stephane Anjuere highlighted: “each revolution has different enablers. And today, the 4th industrial revolution is powered by 5G, and it will notably bring social and welfare benefits, as well as enabling new technologies such as AI, IoT, etc., to fulfill their potential in the healthcare and energy industries, for instance”. Yet, according to him, 5G comes with a lot of disruptive requirements and the normalization of non-terrestrial networks will be key. “We need a strong integration with traditional networks,” he added.


Open access to Space

The second part of the day was hosted and moderated by Jean-Jacques Dordain (Advisory board member, spaceresources.lu & Former Director-General of ESA (2003-2015), Member of the French Académie des Technologies, Chancellor of the ISU).

“At the beginning of the space sector stood the bold decision to set up a satellite operator in Luxembourg, SES. Back in the 1980s, people thought the government was crazy. Over the last decade, many space-related services and business have developed alongside and around SES, giving birth to an entire space industry in Luxembourg” first started Franz Fayot (Minister of the Economy, Government of Luxembourg) during his introduction speech. He also added that successive Luxembourg governments have backed the initial courage and commitment to space activities by continuing to do everything possible to expand the sector and drive it forward. “Through SpaceRousrces.lu and by launching the Luxembourg Space Agency, we have created an environment that enables companies to undertake the kind of research and investment needed to make space ventures economically viable and environmentally sustainable. The goal is now to create a strong ecosystem within the country and to build the expertise and skills required by the space sector,” he highlighted.

“Space Data’s impact in times of crisis” was the name of the presentation given by John Lusk (VP & General Manager, Global Data Services, Spire). After telling the audience about Spire, “a global data services provider which builds and owns satellites and its own satellite infrastructure”, the expert focused on the Spire Constellation. “The Low Earth Multi-Use Receiver (LEMUR) is Spire’s 3U CubeSat platform used to track maritime, aviation, and weather activity from space. We are continuously launching improved sensors and upgrading them in-orbit.  We turn ideas into live data feeds from space in as little as 6 months,” he highlighted. John Lusk then focused on the global monitoring of Covid-19, on mitigating negative impacts and ended his presentation by added that “space technology and global data will play in massive role in prevention efforts to avoid future pendemics”.

Clay Mowry (Vice President - Sales, Marketing & Customer Experience, Blue Origin) then took the virtual stage and told the audience about “Building a Road to Space​”. He started: “it’s the most exciting time since I’ve been in the space industry, for more than 25 years”. The expert then shared the Blue Origin vision: millions of people living and working in space to benefit Earth. “We still have a long way to go. It’s a long term vision and will happen over the next 50 years or more. We’ve sent probes to every plant and Earth is by far the best in our Solar System. We need to protect and treasure it. Earth is not infinite, humanity is growing and we use a lot of resources. We know that there are resources in the solar system – 24/7 solar power, water, etc. – and we need to take advantage of those resources,” he explained, before sharing the latest initiatives and projects led by Blue Origin, which uses reusable launch systems.

A round table discussion brought together Tom Walkinshaw (Founder & CEO, Alba Orbital), Jörn Spurmann (Chief Commercial Officer, Rocket Factory Augsburg AG & Managing Director, RFA Azores and RFA Portugal) Shufan Wu (Chair Professor, Executive Dean of School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Shanghai Jiao Tong University) and Florent D'heilly (Vice President, Sales, Arianespace). After each participant presented its own activity, Jean-Jacques Dordain, the moderator of the day, stated: “we all have a common goal which is to decrease the cost of the access to space and therefore contribute to the democratization of space”. He then asked them about their dreams for the next 5 years. Tom Walkinshaw explained that he wishes that the democratization of space becomes a real thing and not just an abstract concept, with more ideas and new business joining. Jörn Spurmann added: “by then, I hope we will be significantly advanced in the commercialization of space transformation in Europe and that will have built a strong ecosystem”. According to Shufan Wu, there will be more Chinese commercial space flights. “It started in 2015 when many companies emerged. I hope it will keep on growing”. Florent D'heilly concluded: “I’d like to see Thomas Pesquet take off from our launch port in French Gyuana. Many countries have that goal”.

Space applications for Maritime and IoT services

The third and final session of the day was moderated by Peter de Selding (Author, Space Intel Report). He immediately welcomed Stefano Poli (VP, Business Development, Inmarsat Maritime) and Simon van den Dries (CCO, Global Data, Spire) for a round-table discussion. Both experts presented their activities. “Spire Maritime offers a one-stop-shop for AIS tracking data. Our customers are companies who want best-in-class maritime domain awareness and state-of-the-art vessel tracking. We use big data to develop next-generation intelligent vessel tracking and monitoring solutions”, explained Simon van den Dries. Stefano Poli focused on IoT and connected ships with a high degree of automation. “There are many use cases, with solutions and services that can be deployed on the back of machine-to-machine technology. It is data-centric and relies on connected devices on the vessel, at the edge, or in between,” he added.

Fabien Jordan (Founder & CEO, Astrocast) then took the virtual stage and shared his presentation entitled “Direct-to-satellite IoT - How to get Product/Market Fit”. “We are now a global nanosatellite IoT operator and offer a new way to transfer short messages from anywhere in the world, in a two-way and secure system. We also rely on strategic partnerships and are notably working with Aibrus, Thuraya and ESA,” he explained. Fabien Jordan went over the creation of Astrocast and highlighted that he first had to validate that the market was real: the satellite IoT market is fragmented but it is large and fast growing: it deals with freight and storage, maritime, SOS systems, agriculture, connected vehicles, environment and utilities, and more. “True product market fit is possible thanks to L-band frequencies, LEO nanosatellites network, optimized data protocols and optimized chipsets,” added the expert who then focused on the maritime industry, which means many opportunities because of a large number of units, from the fishing industry to the vessels tracking.

“Hiber's global solution for remote monitoring in a post-pandemic era” was presented by Coen Janssen (Chief Strategy Officer, Hiber) who started by describing Hiber’s mission: “it is the missing link for IoT applications, connecting anything anywhere. It monitors easily and tracks your assets, anywhere: deserts, oceans, frozen poles, etc.”. He then focused on Hiber’s dedicated IoT satellite network: “Ultra low power patented pending modem, patent pending communication protocol, proprietary satellites with software defined radio’s, network of ground stations with fully automated network operations center and customer mission control & analytics”.

The day ended with a presentation entitled “Kinéis: Providing IoT everywhere” by Alexandre Tisserant (CEO, Kineis). “Here are the problems we are trying to solve: bringing connectivity everywhere, from remote areas to maritime zones, have global coverage without roaming, the need for back-up or complementary solution while being connected 90% of the time to terrestrial network, and small, low power, long-lasting, simple to use and cheap devices,” he first stated. After telling the audience what Kinéis was all about, he share his 2020-2022 roadmap: deploying applications with the existing constellation, demonstrators, proofs of concept and the development of new devices optimized for Kinéis connectivity, as well as building an ecosystem of technology providers, integrators, solutions providers and device manufacturers. Alexandre Tisserand ended his presentation by sharing several examples in different fields: the development of herd tracking solutions, fighting poverty, ensuring medication delivery, etc.


Photos: Dominique Gaul

Publié le 14 octobre 2020