Tuesday, March 12, 2013

2013 Southern Hemisphere Summer Space Program Wrap-up

The 2013 Southern Hemisphere Summer Space Program (SH-SSP) was recently held in Adelaide, Australia at the University of South Australia in partnership with the International Space University.

Once again, the program was well attended by 37 students from 11 countries, and features a live-in program for Professionals, Graduates and Senior Undergraduates. The program, modelled on the ISU’s Summer Space Program focusses on the interdisciplinary and intercultural aspects of space education.

Public Lectures 

As part of the SH-SSP, there is always a set of public lectures. This year saw 4 separate lectures including:

  • Friday 11 January - International Astronaut Event, which included Astronauts Dr Andy Thomas of Australia, Dr Soyeon Yi of South Korea, and Mr Paolo Nespoli of Italy. 
  • Thursday 17 January - Satellite Remote Sensing – the Benefits for Society, discussing the latest policy developments and technical capabilities of earth observation satellites from an expert panel that included Dr Kimberley Clayfield of CSIRO, and Mr Anthony Wicht of the Space Policy Unit, Department of Innovation, Canberra. 
  • Monday 21 January - Using Satellites to overcome the Digital Divide – included Australian Satellite companies Newsat, Optus and NBNCo 
  • Thursday 31 January - Showcasing the Australian Space Research Program, including the Australian National University, Vipac, Flinders University and the Institute for Telecommunications Research at UniSA. 

The 2013 Public Lectures can be found online here.

White Paper 

As part of the SH-SSP, the students prepare a white paper, which was this year titled ‘Common Horizons’, and can be found on the website here.

The 2013 ‘Common Horizons’ white paper examined the connection between sustainability on Earth, outer space activities, and sustainability of the space environment.

As with all SH-SSP activities, the white paper focusses on examples and case studies from the ‘Global South’, or those countries at or below the Tropic of Cancer, which covers most of the world’s developing nations, together with very few of the global space super powers.

 The White Paper has a good examination of Earth Sustainability, followed by a look at the issues surrounding sustainability of the space environment that we operate in. In particular, there is some good information surrounding Space Debris and the radio spectrum, two of the key issues facing the space industry at this time. On page 25 there is also ‘A day on earth without space’, which poses an interesting example of how a normal day would be very different, if access to space and satellite technology were to disappear. It concludes with a chapter examining the ‘Earth Space Relationship’, and how the sustainability of both is highly interrelated.

The White Paper Recommendations are highly relevant to the Australian space domain:

  • Recommendation 1: Increase involvement in international organizations focused on space sustainability 
  • Recommendation 2: Raise Public Awareness of Space Sustainability 
  • Recommendation 3 – Establish a Global South Space and Earth Sustainability Prize Foundation 

Congratulations to all students involved in the White Paper – I have no doubt that we will be discussing Space sustainability a lot more in the future, and the students who have been involved in writing the paper will be at the forefront of the discussion, so that by the time they are space industry leaders, we will all still have sustainable access to space.

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