Rocking SpaceUP Barcelona

Daniel ScukaDaniel Scuka
  1 December 2016

The SpaceUP-series of UNconferences – which have no pre-planned agenda – have achieved growing popularity and success in Europe, and the November 26-27 SpaceUP Barcelona was a great example why!

Some 60 participants including students, academics, scientists and engineers joined representatives from start-ups, the space industry, agencies, institutes and the open-source community at the Escola d’Enginyeria de Telecomunicació i Aeroespacial de Castelldefels, part of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, for the weekend event.

To date, European SpaceUPs have taken place in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, the UK, Poland, Belgium and several other countries, and routinely include astronauts, scientists, senior programme/activity managers and a wide range of ‘insiders’ working on the frontiers of space business, technology and exploration.

Since there is no pre-planned programme at an UNconference, all attendees are strongly encouraged to give a short 5-minute talk or a longer presentation – or take part in a panel discussion or even a live demonstration on any topic or project they are currently working. It’s crowd-sourced community knowledge-sharing at its best.

SpaceUP Barcelona included presentations from cutting-edge space technology start-ups, including Zero2Infinity and PLD Space, the European Space Agency, numerous small and medium enterprises involved in space or related areas, a scientist working on ESA’s Gaia star-cataloguing mission, Comex, a Marseille-based company involved in technology development and analogue training, and many others.

The talk by Comex’s Space and Innovations Division Manager, Peter Weiss, was especially interesting for us at EJR-Quartz, as Comex is a key technology development partner in the DexROV project, in which we are serving as the lead communication and outreach partner.

DexROV is bringing together seven different organisations from across Europe to challenge what is possible in the realms of undersea operations. DexROV will use, develop and evaluate new technologies to allow safer, more cost-effective undersea operations with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

Peter’s presentation highlighted Comex’s wide range of undersea and space technology developments, which include extensive analogue astronaut training initiatives (undersea, in remote areas and in the lab) in partnership with NASA, ESA and the European space industry.

I took part in SpaceUP Barcelona to present several recent highlights, including web and social media coverage provided to ESA for ExoMars arrival between 16-19 October, and the A Simple Response project, which saw over 3,700 messages submitted from citizens worldwide transmitted on a 434-lightyear journey to the North Star.

My ExoMars presentation highlighted how the EJR-Quartz team worked closely with engineers and scientists to provide social media reporting for the arrival of the TGO orbiter and the landing of the Schiaparelli test module, giving ESA’s global audience a ‘real-time’ link with mission control.

SpaceUPs are ideal venues for learning about the latest developments in space, and the Barcelona edition had a strong contribution from technologies and businesses having a ‘spin-in’ or ‘spin-off’ relation to space, including areas such as materials, software and technologies like 3D printing in zero gravity.

The many hard-working thought-leaders spending a full weekend meeting, networking and talking about space meant that SpaceUP Barcelona was an extremely worthwhile event.