Space Forum: from Global Connectivity to Human Settlement

Written by Alexandre Keilmann on May 25th, 2016

Four inspiring conferences, 50 renowned speakers from Japan to the USA, a SmartSpace and a new satellite paradigm: the first edition of the Space Forum met with great success on May 10 and 11 in Luxembourg. During two days, the international experts exchanged around the topics of Global Connectivity, Mobility, and also Exploration & Space Mining, one of the hottest topics in Luxembourg since last February and the announcement of Luxembourg’s newly expressed Space ambitions.


Global connectivity to serve communities and governments

The conference began with opening words by Fabien Amoretti, CEO, Farvest, and ICT Spring co-founder, and continued with an introduction by Claude Rousseau, Research Director, Northern Sky Research, and moderator of this conference.


Giving the first presentation, “Bring Space to the people”, Roya Ayazi, General Secretary, Nereus, highlighted the need of Space to bring us further. She said that “Citizens are in the centre of Nereus activities and that Space will help us to face new challenges such as drinking water or new resources”. She also emphasized that “Space has a potential for entrepreneurs: “you can work with somebody not very close to you, you can be from Sweden and deliver your services in Spain”. She then explained what we need in Europe to make better use of Space: as examples, more promotion at the level of citizens, establish links with non-space communities and sectors, etc.


Robbie Schingler, co-founder, Planet Labs, is sure about one thing: “captives sensors will be everywhere and will help us to understand the changing world as never before “. The Global Sensing Revolution is a combination of three things: Consumer Tech, Data Infrastructure and Connectivity.  Planet Labs started 5 years ago in a garage, with less than 10 people, all from the Space sector and from the Silicon Valley. The mission of the company is to image the whole world every day, and make global changes visible, accessible, and actionable. “All these collected data can help us to monitor deforestation or combating climate change. By the end of the year, we will be able to photography all the world in a whole day” concluded Robbie Schingler.


In his presentation, Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of CNES, focused on the fact that satellites will play a big role when it comes to Climate Change in the 10 years to come. Out of the 50 essential variables expressed during the COP21 in Paris, 28 can be measured from space. How can we verify if countries that sign the chart respect the agreement? Via satellites. The president of CNES also defined SmartSpace, which he sees as a full steam ahead into the digital age: a new paradigm has now come from satellites. CNES, with its unique European success is a pivotal player in the space industry as its major role in policy and programs. To conclude, JY Le Gall reminded the audience that space was driven by innovation and inspiration, as we are entering a new space age which will allow many new space applications to arrive.


Philippe Glaesener first presented the impressive fleet of Luxembourgish satellite operator SES to later list the next challenges that the company will face. “SES will embark in Next Generation Video, and will provide networks, satellite platforms and transmission” added the Senior Vice President, Business Development EMEA. SES therefore aims at going from an infrastructure provider to an “experience provider”. SES actually wants to go down the value chain and provide new applications and services. But the company also provides data to governments and military to help, notably, in case of disaster relief: “There is a revolution in space, which allows us to collect an incredible amount of data. We need to process them, and therefore, a revolution is also needed on the ground”.


“More than 50% of the world doesn’t have access to internet, or are underserved”Tony Azzarelli(Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Policy, OneWeb) started his presentation at the Space Forum with this surprising statement. Coming from the UK, he even stated that 10% of the country has no access to broadband. Fiber is costly, therefore, satellites will play a big role in offering global connectivity, even to remote locations. “They can provide coverage and are cost effective”, added Mr. Azzarelli. The OneWeb launch campaign will being in 2018: the company plans to send 21 Soyuz after joining forces with Airbus Defence & Space at the end of January.


Stewart Sanders, who’s the Chief Technology Officer at O3b, then took the stage. O3b actually means the “other 3 billion”, for the people who do not have access to the internet. He shared the O3b vision, and mission with the audience: “the internet is the most universally empowering technology ever created. The company brings high performance broadband to the world’s hardest to reach places, positively affecting the lives of those that we connect”. Companies and governments will also benefit from global connectivity: satellites can send day-to-day data from oilrigs to HQ, serve emerging markets and help the military with peace keeping missions.


With the rise of investments in the space industry and notably in connectivity, it was only natural that the Space Forum organizers gather the testimony of Chad Anderson, Managing Director, Space Angels Network. He first reminded the audience that space is much more than just satellites, naming education, media, real estate, energy, resources, transportation, and much more. While some markets are now firmly established, some others are developing and are bringing disruption to space: “faster, cheaper and better”. These startups are actually where VC money goes nowadays. “Angels account for 80% of truly market creating innovations” added Chad Anderson. Space is becoming more and more relevant for “average people”, and, business wise, credibility is growing fast from partnerships between startups and mainstream companies.


Frank Salzgeber told the participants about the mission of the Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO) at ESA, which is to inspire and facilitate the use of space technology, systems and know-how for non-space applications. The Head of the TTPO also insisted on the fact that ESA grew in an exponential way, to build a strong European space tech start-up ecosystem and that now, start-ups are bearing the first fruits. He notably talked about Adaptix, which uses a digital and space technology to redefine X-rays. The next challenges for space start-ups? “Finding new business models, and become the Ubers and Airbnbs of Space!”


The end the Global Connectivity morning session, Claude Rousseau asked Tony Azzarelli, Robbie Schingler, Jean-Yves Le Gall about regulation and restrictions, but also about the changing value proposition of space and satellites in particular. According to Robbie Schingler, the price of launching is too high, and therefore limits innovation: “we are not going enough in space!” The president of CNES added that satellites now have main objectives: connect people and observe Earth, even if the process starts with innovation, it’s the regulation that needs to change. He concluded: “it’s the role of leaders to impulse these ideas”.




Satellites and data to develop IoT and redefine mobility

The afternoon session of Space Forum was moderated by Hans Bracquené, President of SME4Space, and dealt with the “Internet of Things & Mobility”.


Emma Park, Director, International Business Development at SIGFOX started her presentation by stating that the market for IoT was immense and she expects the number of connected objects to skyrocket and reach one trillion in the years to come. SIGFOX deploys one single network strategy in all the countries it is available and has created an open ecosystem: “Every company can join and therefore compete for free, simply to boost innovation”.


“Space is an emerging sector and therefore the number of satellites in orbit is growing”. From 2005 to 2014, 180 satellites were launched, from 2015 to 2024, 1700 will go into space. Massimo Comparini (Chairman of the Board, Earthlab Luxembourg & CEO, E-geos) insisted on the fact that there are not enough centers on the ground to manage all the information gathered by the satellites: “You need to start from the solution that you want to provide, and not from the data”.According to M. Comparini, “innovation is not only technical; it changes business models and that is where we find convergence between digital and space”.


“Our goal is to deliver the only viable satellite solution for entreprise data – responding to specific customer needs that are not being met by today’s technology”, started Mark Rigolle, CEO of Leosat. His company plans to launch 108 low-earth-orbit communications satellites by 2018. Lower latencies sats provide faster data coverage. The CEO targets 300 professional clients, by all the end-users will benefit from LeoSat.


Space is all over the place, but “what’s behind the hype?” Robbert Mica, Entrepreneur Business Development, ATG Fast Forward, through his presentation, agreed with M. Comparini: “more data is getting gathered, sensor capabilities are increasing and the price in coming down”. Through is company, a venture studio which provides access to global expertise and with rocket scientists, he partnered with VanDerSat, to derive climate data into valuable information across all sectors.


Dr Fritz Merkle then took the stage. The Member of the Management Board, OHB Group said: “IoT is based on the availability of connectivity”. Therefore, German satellite operators are looking for new applications, that are secure and future-oriented, and which will have to have satellite links. He concluded: “Space is an alternative, not only for undeveloped countries. It will also act as an important and robust back-up”.


The second part of the afternoon addressed the topic of mobility, its future and latest innovations.Jean-Philippe Parain, President & CEO, BMW GROUP Belux, listed the different goals of the German car manufacturer for the next 100 years to come: developing the brands and offering a unique design, creating new services (such as Drive Now, launched with Sixt) and focusing on e-mobility to continue the work that has been done with the i3 and i8. With the arrival of many new entrants in the automotive industry, “BMW sees it as an opportunity, and has a potential growth of 115 million euros”. Along with Audi and Daimler, BMW bought geo-localization specialist Here, a key to remain at the top of the automotive industry, proving that mobility and space are interconnected.


According to Yannick Harrel, Author and Cybersecurity expert, “the automobile 3.0 is not just a connected car”. It will be cleaner, safer, interactive and revolutionary. Not only will it be connected to a server, it will also be connected to other cars. Future cars will affect three layers of cyberspace: the inside of the car, outside, but also everything that is around, meaning it would create an entire community. Just like JP Parain, he insisted on the importance of geo-localization and therefore satellite constellation: “we need to know in real-time where to do and what to do”.


Joost Vantomme, Director Public Affairs, Febiac, started his presentation on connected mobility by explaining that the line between connected cars and autonomous vehicles was blurring. As a matter of fact, according to a survey by McKinsey, “45% of cars will be autonomous by 2030”. Data and technology will allow car manufacturer and new players to work on safety, develop infotainment services, and even completely new business models, through partnerships and alliances. Three main challenges remain: societal, technical and the role of road managers which will need to be defined.


Marco Millefiorini, Partner, Accenture, shared with the audience the trends impacting the IoT world and especially the security issue, which slows down the entire sector. To solve this problem, solutions are already available: fingerprinting recognition, data encrypting or ciphered connections: “information security requires a holistic approach for device to the service consumption and specific IoT procedures” concluded Marco Millefiorini.

The last speaker of the day, François Chopard, (CEO, Starburst Accelerator) first showed two pictures of aircrafts, one dating from the 1960s and one from the years 2010: the design hasn’t changed in 50 years. According to F. Chopard, boundaries are set by big companies who do not wish to take risks. Yet, many new players have new solutions, which could revolutionize the world of aircraft. The CEO of Starburst Accelerator gave notably the examples of SpaceX, Lilium, Aerion or Aeromobil. He ended his presentation with an inspiring quote by Joseph Schumpeter: “Innovation is the market introduction of a technical or organizational novelty, not just its invention!”



Day 2 of the Space Forum was launched with a conference on Cybersecurity, and moderated by Michael Hofmann, Partner in charge of Information Risk Management at KPMG Luxembourg.


The first speakers was non-other than Francine Closener, Secretary of State of the Economy, Secretary of State of Internal Security, Secretary of State of Defence, Le Gouvernement du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg. She went through the several Space initiatives taken by the government over the past weeks, and announced that Dr. Simon Peter Worden was the new member of the Advisory Board. The former director of NASA’s Ames Research Center joins Jean-Jacques Dordain, and will bring his expertise to help Luxembourg realize its space mining goals. If Oscar Wilde said that progress is the realization of utopias, “Luxembourg has the capacity to move towards its Space ambitions, and, with will and courage, the countries will turn utopias into reality” concluded Francine Closener.




Because of a bad design, or because protocols are not secured, many cyberattacks have touched satellites and space programs. Cyril Autant, Space and Information Systems Security Director, ‎Thales Communications & Security, gave a presentation highlighting the necessity to keep security at the right level. The importance is also to know what you need to protect (instead of protecting the entire system, which would be extremely costly), and having a solid strategy. Updates and new implementations are also key, and so is Threat Intelligence: “companies need to gather as much information as possible to avoid cyberattacks: reputation, potential targets, know-how and vulnerability of your own system”.


Alexandre Minarelli (Senior Manager, IT Security, EY Luxembourg) and Kevin d’Antonio (Manager, EY Luxembourg Cyber Security Leader), gave a joint presentation entitled “Hygiene security practices for providers of essential services in Luxembourg”. For IT, and of course, Space companies, security is a differentiator. Fedil, in collaboration with service providers, set a list of good practices to strengthen and facilitate the journey towards the protection against new threats. 50 rules came out of this survey: companies should nominate a CISO (Chief Information Security Officer), train their employees, define an IT security policy, have regular risk assessments, etc.


The LuxGovSat was launched by the Luxembourgish government, in partnership with SES, to provide the country with quality information. Its CEO, Patrick Biewer, insisted on the fact that companies must preserve information security, especially when data is used for research, first responders or military purposes. The company will launch GovSat61 in June 2017, and the data gathered won’t be limited to Luxembourg, but will also be used by other European agencies. “GovSat-1 will provide global coverage, flexibility, physical and emissions security, but also transmission and crypto security”, added Patrick Biewer.


The CERT-EU offers advanced IT security services all over Europe. According to Rogier Holla, Deputy Head of organization, “cyberattacks have changed dramatically. There has been a complete paradigm shift”. Attacks are more sophisticated. He proved it with several examples, notably the DDoS Attack in Estonia in 2007: three weeks of cyberattacks paralyzed the government, infrastructures and banks. Rogier Holla ended his presentation by warning the CEOs of the growing cyber threats, and that it must be at the center of their strategy.


Pascal Rogiest, CEO, LUXTRUST, enlightened the audience with a presentation on Trusted ID Management, which helps covering widening the cybersecurity gap in the increasingly interconnected world. “Security is actually one of the biggest concerns, and even blocks the development of IoT. Plus, we are moving towards an open shared economy”. Therefore, the EU is working on the regulation of data privacy. “ID management allows building networks of uniquely identifiable and trusted activities”, concluded Pascal Rogiest.


Exploration & Mining:

The last hours of the Space Forum 2016 were moderated by Dr. Mathias Link, Policy Officer / Space Affairs, Ministry of the Economy, Directorate of ICT and Space Affairs, The Government of Luxembourg. He also gave an outlook on the country’s long-term view on in-space economy, which has been exponential since the Space Act signed by President Obama, and the announcement of Luxembourg’s space ambitions in February.


Jean-Jacques Dordain, Former Director, ESA, is convinced that the combination of Space and ICT will allow the birth of many innovations: “the alliance is new in history, but it will change the world: it will create jobs, economic growth, it will connect people”. The interest is mutual. In order for this collaboration to work, the two industries must cooperate…”To drive innovation, it must be a cooperation of interest, and a competition of solutions”, added M. Dordain. If Space can capture data, it’s digital, on Earth, which will store and process them. Convinced of the project launched by the Luxembourgish government, the former ESA Director, wants to find a sustainable path until the long term (space mining) is achieved. “Mining + Finance + Space: Luxembourg is the perfect place for such space projects”, concluded Mr. Dordain.




His inspiring speech was followed by Chris Lewicki‘s. The President and CEO of Planetary Resources told the participants that the technology was already available, and that “we need to move now, because the future depends on it”. With Planetary Resources, he aims at expending the economic sphere to the solar System, as “near Asteroids are gifts”. It is also fundamental that most of the material found on asteroid will be used on site, using technologies such as 3D printing. Yet, “the most important resource is going to be people. And these people will need resource”.


Daniel Faber is the CEO of Deep Space Industries, which will develop Prospector X notably with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) at the University of Luxembourg. DSI aims at improving services on Earth and develop activities in space (where metal and water are abundant). Daniel Faber walked the audience through the four stages of the DSI process: prospecting, harvesting, processing and manufacturing. Yet, some challenges lay ahead but “having a supporting regulation, a stable tax regime, a reliable legal system” will help with the development of space mining, to later achieve human settlement.


Innovation startups then took the space to present their projects and products. Takeshi Hakamada, (CEO & Founder, ispace technologies, Inc.) shared his vision with the participants: “Human will live in space, and space mining will help in this respect”. His team, located in Japan, is currently one of the remaining teams in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition. One of his competitors, Jürgen Brandner, Head of Engineering, PT Scientists, presented his own space rover, also competing for the famous XPRIZE. Both of these rovers were actually brought to Luxembourg for the occasion. Then, Dejan Petkow, from NSD Gradel Fusion, presented the technologies developed by the Luxembourgish company which produces neutrons. These are actually used for radiography – and will redefine the industry – and spectroscopy.


Rick Tumlinson, Co-Founder, Deep Space Industries then lead an inspiring panel discussion, entitled “Welcome to the Revolution! Space Resources and Transition from Human Exploration to Human Settlement in Space”.  Participants Chris Lewicki, from the US, Jean-Jacques Dordain, from France, and Daniel Faber, from Australia, exchanged with the audience on topics such as the collaboration between public and private entities, or settlement on the Moon. To highlight the revolution Rick Tumlinson was talking about, Chris Lewikci added: “What is possible is inevitable”. Jean-Jacques Dordain and the CEO of Planetary Resources share a special wish: that people (investors, entrepreneurs, public institutions, etc.) stop focusing on the short term, and rather see the big picture of space exploration and mining. On the question of mining on the Moon, Daniel Faber said: “Asteroids mining, to extract water and metal, is much easier than doing it on the Moon”. The four experts ended the discussion by reassuring the audience: space mining is coming sooner than we think, hence the ambitions of the Luxembourg government!


The new investment opportunities offered by space mining were then presented by Uli Fricke, Managing General Partner, Triangle. She first told the audience that investments skyrocketed in 2015, and were equivalent to space investments from 2000 to 2014. There are two challenges that investors face: how can they protect their investments (risks) and how to have a ROI (business). “We hope for a more unified system: the fragmented legal universe doesn’t help when it comes to investment in space companies”, concluded Mrs. Fricke.


Pr. Chris Welch is a specialist in astronautics and space engineering at the International Space University, located in Strasbourg, France. In his presentation entitled “The Profiles of the Future”, he described the different missions of ISU and went through several projects, which were presented by students and focused on space mining. The first one dates back from 1990 and was called IAM (International Asteroid Mission) and the 2010 project Asteroid Mining, Technologies Roadmap and Applications (ASTRA). “AT ISU, there are many people who want to make new things happen, and it ends up with new successful projects” concluded Pr. Chris Welch.


The final panel discussion of the Space Forum, moderated by Caroline Bruneau, journalist at Aerospatium, tackled the burning topic of new and future space mining regulations, more specifically space commerce. Andrew Barton, Director of Technical Operations, Google Lunar XPRIZE, first explained that the need of new regulation is recent, and will continue to grow in the years to come, especially after the first Google Lunar XPRIZE ends, sending the first 100% private companies to space. Professor Mahunela Hofmann, SES Chair in Satellite Communications, then insisted on the necessity to first have national regulations. She would also rather opt for permissive laws, rather than strict ones, which could stop entrepreneurs. Chad Anderson agreed but highlighted the fact that these entrepreneurs should meet with the regulators right away, just like Richard Bronson did when he launched Virgin Galactic. Matthew Napoli (Vice President, Made In Space) follows the same path: “having too many laws right now would stop people from going to space”.


The day ended with two start-ups presentations by Campbell Pegg and Piotr Perczynski, co-founders of Asteroid Direct, and Antoine Joly-Bataglini, CEO & co-founder of Mymicrogravity.

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