Space Forum 2017

This week, Luxembourg hosted the Space Forum within the framework of ICT Spring event.  It was a great success.  First half-day was dedicated to space communications.  It appears from the different presentations that satellite operators must evolve their role from a pure provider of bandwith to a value-added partner offering solutions for multimedia/video, broadband access and IoT/M2M applications. New emerging markets are needing such solutions like smart cities, smart agriculture, aero-connectivity (drones and flying cars) and more generally connected vehicles.  5G shall play a crucial role and it appears that a viable commercially and technically solution is already happening.

Second half-day was focused on data fusion.  As of today, a lot of data is available from Earth Observation.  Moreover, in the Age of Acceleration information is ubiquitous.  Faced to this big data, there is a crucial need to aggregate all kind of data, and by using AI (deep learning) to offer added-value services for decision makers: predictive analysis using earth observation, tweeter feeds, macroeconomic data, etc … This is what Earth Lab, a promising Luxembourgish startup is working on.

It was also made clear that we are converging to some new data science using different technologies like AI, data analytics, quantum computing, neural networks to offer on-demand economical services.  There are opportunities for superpreneurs to create bold companies proposing such services in order to solve sustainability, demographic and megacities problems.  Big data science could also be used to offer location-based services.  Imagine for example to be delivered goods and services to exactly where you need them and how you need them!

There were also discussions how to integrate IoT with satellites.  There is a new world of possibilities: connecting remote assets (unmanned sites and offshore platforms for example), sensor networks in energy and mining applications, transforming transportation infrastructures (on-board mobility services), developing sustainable cities (better usage of resourves, safety and security) and connected vehicles.  However, as of today, several bandwidths and standards are used.  What about then the interoperability?

Second day was about planetary defense (how to protect the Earth against the risk of a collision with an asteroid?) and space mining.  Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company, and ispace, the company participating to the Google Lunar XPrize, having both offices now in Luxembourg, made a presentation.  But the great news came from Etienne Schneider, Luxembourg Prime Minister and Minister of Economy, who announced the creation of a Luxembourg Space Agency and a Space Fund of 200 millions€ so that Luxembourg become much greater in space than on Earth, and that

“Luxembourgish shall become the official space language”

Another fascinating presentation was made by Off World.  They are developing a new generation of industrial robots to do the heavy lifting on the Moon, asteroids and Mars.

Last but not least, Virgin Galactic made an update about their commercial space flights.

As a conclusion, after those 2 days, it was made clear that the space race is on track again, and next challenges are 2-fold:  first of all, use space data to improve our daily lives on Earth, secondly, explore deep space with the ultimate goal to go on Mars.  This requires to master the exploitation of space resources, in-orbit manufacturing/servicing, space transportation and space stations.  A lot of work and opportunities for bold superpreneurs!

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