On the second day of the Space Forum 2020, which took place on September 16th, local and international space experts shared their vision and presented their innovative solutions. The phygital event, with a couple of speakers discussing these topics from Luxembourg and many remotely from all around the world, met with great success.


The first session focused on cybersecurity and was moderated by Peter de Selding (Author, Space Intel Report). He stated: “cybersecurity is a vast subject and no one can get their hands around all of it. The setup of upcoming LEO constellations raises more issues: is a distributed network like this more secure or less secure than a big satellite in GEO orbit? We have seen cybersecurity breaches in the past years and it will probably happen again”.

Joel Scanlan (Associate Professor, Department of Maritime Studies, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL)) then gave a keynote focusing on the impact of LEO Constellations on Maritime Cyber Security. “We live in a connected world. There are 22 billion Internet connected devices globally but the primary protocols that enable the Internet are only 37 years old and only approximately 50% of the global population have access to the internet. Industries that are geographically isolated don’t have reliable connections; often low bandwidth and high latency,” he explained. He then asked: “How secure is our current connected world? With change in paradigm comes a change in risks. An increased connectedness changes attack surface”. Therefore, what can be done? “Increased connectivity is a great thing, but there is scope for additional risk, particularly the constellations’ fault or problem to fix. If the satellite constellations are implemented in the timelines suggested it could result in some of the most dramatic change to connectivity we have seen. Industries need to understand the risks that come with this opportunity,” he concluded.

“Space Security and Threats - The Need to Protect” was the name of the presentation given by Paul Wells (Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer of GovSat) who first explained that “security was key as space has now become a major global industry. And the market will keep on growing dramatically. Space is the focus of the next industrial revolution and sees many investments from commercial entities but also from governments. In Luxembourg, it accounts for 2% of the GDP”. He also highlighted that many space applications already affect our daily lives: from SatCom to TV broadcasting, remote access, navigation, space observation, etc. and that the next main focus will be space exploration with trips to the Moon and Mars. “The need for security is huge. In this period of massive growth we need to understand the threats and mitigate them,” added the expert. He focused on physical security (space debris and offensive actions from states or criminal actions), electronic threats (interferences and high power microwave which can create an energy burst and damage the electronics on board) and cyber security (“the system of systems”, with the need to improve the level of resilience).

Damien Garot (Managing Partner, Jansky Partners) then took the stage and focused on “Quantum communications: how to transform this opportunity for the space sector into actual business?” “Today’s algorithms are built on the difficulty of performing mathematical operations. In 1994 someone created an algorithm which can still crack today’s protection only using a quantum computer. Back then it was science fiction, but it is not the case anymore. All players working on quantum computing. Therefore, we are ot safe against the rise of tech”, highlighted the expert. According to him, that is why we need quantum communications: they are fully secured because they rest on the fundamental laws of physics. Quantum key distribution – QKD – works through an optical fiber but it is limited, and long distance communications are enabled with only one node: the starlight. It represents a unique opportunity for the space sector as space has an edge compared to terrestrial solutions. He also added that “the race for QKD networks is on”. Also, according to European commissioner Thierry Breton, “Europe needs a starlight constellation in LEO to provide space quantum cryptography”. “But what is the market potential for a starlight QKD? Drivers of the market? What do we sell: a digital key or terabyte of secure communications? Need to establish a business plan, and work as an ecosystem, build a robust infrastructure to support it and we also need institutional support,” concluded the expert.

General Robert Mazzolin (Chief Cyber Security Strategist, RHEA Group) then focused on national security considerations: “Space and Cyber are new strategic enablers for nations, key to national security – both military and economic, commercial and economic competition versus national interests, applicability to wide array of actors – state/non-state for variety of interests: economic, military, terrorist…, etc.” According to the expert, “societal dependence on networks results in increased number and sophistication of attacks targeting critical infrastructure and institutions. Cyber threats manifest themselves against Space systems through Kinetic Physical, Non-Kinetic Physical, Electronic and Cyber. Space systems are not well protected environments – potential for widespread implications”. He concluded his presentation by focusing on additional risks and threats to industrial capacity and notably advocated more international cooperation in order to develop a flexible, multilateral space and cybersecurity regime.


Space & Sustainability

The sustainability topic start with a round table discussion moderated by Peter De Selding, with the participation of Nobu Okada (Founder & CEO, Astroscale), Luca Rossettini (CEO & Founder, D-Orbit) and Luc Piguet (CEO & Co-founder, Clearspace). Luc Piguet and his team are working on space debris: a research and academia project was turned in a spin off back in 2017 and has since then been selected by ESA to remove objects from low earth orbit by 2025. He added: “new space requires new services, to address the future of space traffic. We need to make the space environment safe for future generations. Removing man-made space debris is the responsibility of today’s generation to ensure tomorrow’s generations can continue to benefit from space technology and exploration”. Nobu Okada agreed: “Space is not sustainable anymore, the density has reached its critical level. According to me, sustainable space means not stopping development and not adding cost to operators”. With his company, they are trying to build a future where there is on-orbit servicing, but adding maintenance and disposal, like any other industry. And we need RPO technologies to remove controlled and uncontrolled objects. Astrocale is currently working with JAXA first to get a picture and identify motion and in the next phase, to capture and remove debris. “Our vision is to create in-space logistics to enable profitable business and human expansion in a sustainable space. We offer end-to-end services to satellite operators from manufacturing, orbital transportation to orbital operations, and end of life disposal service,” then added Luca Rossettini. According to him, sustainability means enabling the entire human kind to successfully exploit the space ecosystem and improve space business and overall human space activities. “We need to allow space circular economy and first make sure every satellite can be properly disposed of at the end of life. It is already a problem: we need to act now,” concluded the expert.

Yue Yuan (Space Policy Researcher, China Foreign Affairs University) and Markus Payer (Editor in Chief, SpaceWatch.Global) participated to a fireside chat and discussed how space tech helped fight Covid-19 in China. According to them, “satellite navigation and positioning allowed patients tracking through a smart epidemic prevention management platform but also drone disinfection, workforce flows and cargo surveillance. Earth observation allowed temporary hospital construction in just 10 days and disease surveillance and mapping, and finally, satellite communication enables tele-medicine – and even the use of mobile tele-medicine vehicles – and online education through virtual classrooms”.

Big data & the business of space data

The last part of this year’s phygital Space Forum was moderated by Michele Franci (International space and telecommunications technology professional) who first welcomed Marc Serres (CEO, Luxembourg Space Agency). The expert discussed the development of a strong space ecosystem. The CEO first explained that what the LSA is doing is driven by the diversification of the economy: “we help all companies to develop and grow into the space sector. Also, talent is fundamental and is at the core of our mission. Moreover, Space goes beyond the border and we are internationally engaged”. The LSA has also worked on a national action plan with its proposals for the future and investments for the next years, which was adopted by the government and shows the ambitions of the country. “Currently, Luxemburg space companies focus their investments on applications. 70% of the means devoted to space programs at ESA are devoted to applications,” added the expert. He also discussed the cooperation with ESA to create the European Space Resources Center. Marc Serres then focused on 2020 and the many changes that have happened this year: a new Minister of the Economy in Luxembourg, the 15th anniversary of Luxembourg as a member state of ESA (started with 7 labs active in space to now have 53 companies), the impact of Covid-19 and the delays in the singing of contracts and its impact on supply chain, the postponement of flagship events, etc.. “Despite the difficulties, we’ve done our best to keep on supporting companies. ESA also did a fantastic job. We have never seen a decrease of interest in Luxembourg. Our LSA data center uses the whole set of data for Sentinel 1 and 2. We are working with primary and secondary school to support the training of teachers to use space as a tool,” highlighted Marc Serres. He concluded by discussing the space resources initiatives, “the flagship of the agency and the country”, and explained that LSA is also closely working with NASA.

“Building Resilient Supply Chains with EO” was the name of the presentation given by Dr. James Crawford, (Founder & CEO, Orbital Insight). “The fundamental mission of our company is to understand what we’re doing on and to the Earth. We make this information available for corporations and governments,” he commented. “It starts from a large variety of imagery: put it all together in the platform to deliver answers to customers” questions. Our value proposition: tell them answers in business language. We are looking at a business level and bring a large amount of data,” he added. According to him, supply chain intelligence should focus on three areas: traceability (point-to-point movements mapping back to the first tier suppliers), facility monitoring (competitor plan monitoring for ramp ups, shutdowns and outages) and macro analysis (real-time tracking of economic and social trends). He then shared several examples, from the ways to ensure ethical supply chains (i.e activity from a vulnerable region can be mapped back to a supplier), unreported oil refinery outage and also tracking societal trends during Covid-19. “Modern supply chains can help reach sustainability through traceability, transparency through facility monitoring and predictability through macro analysis,” he concluded.

David Henri (CEO, Exotrail) then took the virtual stage and focused on the Space transportation solutions provided by Exotrail and first shared the motto of his company: “bringing agility to the space industry. Our missions are to improve deployment, increase performances and reduce space pollution. To do that you need to move on orbit. Our vision: use large rockets that are already there, and then propulsion, a way to move to another orbit. Once there you can move, avoid collision, and come back to the atmosphere to prevent new space debris”. He explained that the Exotrail experts can support clients from early design and building to launching, then operating and even deorbiting, through three sets of services and softwares. “Our services are built around our three core values: action (we can take risks), a structured team and quality things. We already have institutional and commercial clients, from Europe and Asia and are now moving forward with our vision,” concluded David Henri.

Live from Brazil, Aila Raquel (CEO, Alya Nanosatellites Constellation E.O) then shared her presentation entitled “Alya and Allies - Space Sector for Sustainable Growth in Brazil”. Alya is a pioneer private space company based in Salvador Bahia, in Brazial. “We are a big country with big problems, with numerous environmental tragedies (risks of fires all over Brazilian forests, crop failure due to drought in agriculture, etc. Through our expertise and thanks to many research programs, our vision is to improve professionals to solve complex problems, exploring space technologies for sustainable development, bringing solutions that matter to the citizen’s daily lives,” highlighted Aila Raquel. She also added: “personally, as a female leader, I want to inspire many girls and women to recognize their own power to bring great solutions for many problems. Also, Alya is a company that creates opportunities for equality and inclusion, without discrimination, respecting international treaties, the Brazilian federal constitutions and the CLT. “It aims at protecting hydric resources, supporting agriculture and the production of quality foods without loss or harvest, etc. Our first goal is to set up a ground station and field calibration: it will offer rocket tracking and telemetry, satellite and constellation management, receiving data. The second goal, in the years to come, so to launch a nanosatellites constellation mission,” concluded the expert.

“Anywaves & the business of space data” was the name of Nicolas Capet’s keynote speech. The CEO of Anywaves listed some of the challenges of space data: “the number of satellites need to increase, and energy and memory needs to be implemented. Data rate communication systems also need to be increased: highly efficient radio frequency links, optical technologies and data access for secured real time services”. He then shared his solutions and different ways to face these new challenges: Ka-band and/or optical inter-satellites links, worldwide ground station network, improved satellite capabilities and relevant data collection onboard. He concluded: “Big Space Data is under revolution. It will bring solutions for humanity as well as improved Earth monitoring and allow massive space exploration”.

Helen Tung (Barrister & Senior Associate, Hamdan AlShamsi, Founder of NewSpace2060, Head of Space law department at Seven Pillars Law (Kazakhstan)) took the stage and focused on the “Space Sector in the Middle East and Investment insights”. “UAE is one of the wealthiest countries by all means and investment is a huge topic in the Middle East. The space economy is about 350 bn dollars and there is much more on ground as space is involved in so many industries,” she added. According to her, space knowledge should be brought to the general population: “we need to have everyone interested in space and get people to think about it. It will make the ecosystem grown and will bring down the costs”. She ended her presentation by underlining that investors should consider UAE as a fertile ground, and that they should think on the long term: “there is no limit when it comes to investing in the space industry. We are talking multi million”.

Matt Desch (CEO of Iridium Communications) then took part in a fireside chat with Michele Franci The experts first discussed the success of Iridium. “It took us 30 years to get there. It is not hard to get a LEO constellation to space, but it is challenging to build a sustainable business model. I attribute our greater success to the fact that we have inter satellite links and 100% global coverage of the world,” first commented the CEO. He also discussed the current network, which is perfect for IoT, and which counts more than 350 000 partners who are building solutions around it. “We have become the de facto standard for point-to-point IoT connection”. When discussing future plans and projects, Matt Desch explained: “Iridium is in a good position right now: we have a proven Business Model, many partners and companies that depend on us. We are working on a new satellite network and on a multi service platform for innovation. In the meantime we will reward our shareholders and keep an eye on the industry,”

Rita Zhang (VP, FutureSpace) took the virtual stage and focused on the state of the Chinese market. She began by breaking down the number of new space companies located in the country, and added: “since 2015, investment in startup space companies is seeing sustained growth, reaching the peak in 2018 with 50 fundraising deals. Seven fundraising deals have occurred in 2020 up to now. She then focused on FutureSpace: “it is a private-owned global company, established to promote the commercialization of the space industry. In 2015, it initiated the first space VC fund in China and has invested in numerous new space startups covering the entire space value chain. It has become a leading new space industry group in China, providing comprehensive industry research, strategic consulting, incubation and investing, and organizing an annual international space conference to facilitate the growth of the new space industry”.

Yu Tianhong (Co-founder and COO of Origin Space) then focused on “The Business of Space Data in China” through his presentation. “Origin Space is one of the main commercial space companies in China. The business space data is divided into earth monitoring data (data processing companies, clients are governments and insurance companies, consumer goods companies – a mature market with a lot of competition, it also requires new satellite networks to allow the market to grow) and space astronomy data,” he first explained. Origins Space aims at space resources exploration and utilization: it was established in March 2019 in China and created is Luxembourg subsidiary company in May 2020. “We promote deep space exploration in Europe and are leading several astronomy projects in collaboration with universities and high schools in China to share the cost. Now prepare for asteroid observations,” added Yu Tianhong. He then shared some of the company’s projects (Lobster Eye X-Ray Satellite, launched in July 2019, Taiyuan Satellite launched in October) and upcoming missions: Yungwang-1, next year, aiming for asteroid observation.

The 2020 Space Forum ended with a presentation given by Patrick Matgen (Group Leader, Environmental Research & Innovation, LIST). It was entitled “moving science and satellite-based retrieval algorithms towards operations” and he shared the example of HASARD, an automated global-scale flood mapping service developed at LIST.  “We are working on new technology assets that can be brought to the market. Our mission is to carry out world-class research in remote sensing and mature resources modelling, that generates societal and economic impact in strategic areas of national interest,” he first stated. He then focused on the use of algorithms to retrieve key environmental variables from multi source remote sensing data: nitrogen content, urban footprint, crop yield, flood extent, etc. Patrick Matgen also presented the HASARD project, a flood-monitoring tool in near real time. “It started 10 year ago, with fundamental research, and led to the creation of a spin off, commercial exploration of this software. HASARD is based on a patented technology that allows identifying all types of charges occurring on land surfaces. The algorithms use highly innovative hierarchical image splitting and statistical modelling to delineate and classify areas that changed their backscatter response between two image acquisitions. It enables a fully automated and systematic production of flood extent maps”. According to him, nowadays, a leading EO services marketplace is still missing. “We came up with the WASDI platform. Raw data is stored on the cloud and EO expects can access it and elaborate their own products and deploy services on that cloud. End users use the platform, access the product and integrate it in their own service,” concluded Patrick Matgen


Photos: Dominique Gaul

Publié le 21 octobre 2020