Space Cafe III best visited up till now: the most notable conclusions from the workshops
The third Space Café event is a collaboration between the Dutch Ministry of Defence, Spacened and NL Space Campus, and took place at Unmanned Valley, in the Region of NL Space Campus. This edition is the best-visited Space Café since its start in 2021. With 120 visitors, 3 well known plenary speakers from leading organisations, and 6 workshops led by 15 professionals from the leading industry and Defence alike. Workshops containing discussions about topics that are overlapping with the current Defence and Space Agenda’s. Every one of them had substantive good discussions and in this article we share the most notable conclusions from the workshops. These findings are important to give insights into the topics, questions, and possible subjects for the workshops in the next edition of Space Café, which will take place at the end of 2022.
Subjects plenary sessions
First off was Georgios Katsoulis (European Commission, Directorate General DEFIS / Defence Industry & Space) with the theme of understanding European Defence Developments and opportunities for the industry. Followed by the Director of the Netherlands Space Office (NSO) Harm van de Wetering, about the national economic policy with regard to space and (inter)national incentives. More practical insights into the Dutch Space sector and the current themes and focus of the Dutch space industry, were offered by Jeroen Rotteveel, the CEO of ISISpace. You can download their slides here.
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)
Together with Jan Erik Wien, COO of NEO, Koen Verberne hosted the discussion about Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). Jan Erik is a specialist in Geo-information and earth observation and NEO has been leading in this field for more than 25 years. Koen Verberne is director at 52Impact and entrepreneur data technologies. 52impact provides strategic and operational information by using a combination of data technologies, including satellite data, modelling techniques, and machine learning. As an independent professional in the field of Earth observation and geo-information services as business developer, innovation manager and proposal manager, Koen knows how to ask the right questions during the workshop. From this workshop the most important findings were the focus of how satellite EO can be used by Defence for several opportunities. Starting with improving the responsiveness of Defence, detecting and identifying ships, and obtaining information from remote areas. What came out of the discussion mainly ended in the following question: What does Defence want to do itself in the information chain and what does it want to outsource? This can be an interesting topic for Defence to discuss internally about how to make better use of this opportunity.
Satellite Communication (SatCom)
Alexandra Sokolowski is responsible for business development and sales of off-the-shelf products and components for CubeSats and SmallSats across the AAC Clyde Space Group. She is also team lead and works on the strategic product marketing for AAC Clyde Space (former Hyperion). Using post-it’s and her teamlead skills, the satcom workshop was the most interactive in discussing the topic. The participants jointly identified current and future threats for SatCom. Among those were a few commonly known threats such as jamming, spoofing, hacking and bandwidth limitations. The participants also identified threats that are not as frequently mentioned such as long lead times for technology development or closing contractual agreements, as well as the converging market leading to dependencies on very few players. Subsequently, the participants also discussed solutions for these threats.
Frequent mentions were the use of laser satellite communication to overcome security- as well as bandwidth-issues. Furthermore, they discussed the need for strategic communication autonomy and baselining required technologies early on, be that through for example means of the Growth Fund, European Defence Fund, and supply chain building. Finally, the discussion led to the conclusion that such a collaboration would particularly thrive when suitable platforms, opportunities to meet, or geographical proximity is given. Which can be done through regular exchanges and events, such as the Space Café event or other networking opportunities for organisations, such as NL Space Campus provides.
Meteorology, Oceanography and Climate (METOC)
This workshop was hosted by Peter Novak, managing director and software engineer at Meandair, and Stefan van der Linden, from S&T. Meandair is a daughter company of S&T, and offers nowcasting tools to support pilots with near real-time awareness about the dynamic weather conditions ahead and with timely advice to optimise their routes for evolving weather conditions. They work closely with KNMI and take part in the Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems -Integrated Applications Promotion program. Stefan is Group/Team Lead and (Space) System Engineer with experience in a variety of high-tech projects, including GNSS signal analysis and receiver design, high accuracy RF measurement systems, and microsatellite missions. He leads a group specialising in GNSS signal analysis, robust navigation and control systems, which is a good collaboration with Peter for hosting this workshop. They found that during the discussion climate change plays a large role and will likely introduce known risks and tensions in the world due to scarcity of living area, food and clean water. Defence currently has a lot of existing capabilities for short-term Meteo, however it is unsure how these models, and especially their uncertainties, change due to the changing climate. The same holds for industry and public services: many aspects in our environment and the models describing it are changing and we are uncertain about the effects. Therefore, all users including Defence and public services have a need for increasing the reliability of climate models and the necessary measurements by reducing the uncertainties. Not just by introducing new satellite sources but especially by smartly combining them with other sources of data. It is then found very important to focus on the presentation of this information, so that it can be well understood by the end user. Present the (non-technical) users with the (raw) data, and provide a tailored, easily understandable, dashboard, including what-if analyses, and overall provide users with clear decision support.
Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)
Eric Bertels, system engineer at ISISpace, the company that together with the MInistry of Defence launched the satellite BRIKK-II last year, hosted the workshop about Signals Intelligence (SIGINT). He noted especially that it was a very diverse group of members of Defence, knowledge institutes and industry, discussing the current capabilities of SigINT and how they can be used for defence purposes. Current commercial state-of-the-art technology shows that geolocation can be done up to 500 metres accurately, and that the current BRIK-II mission is still a success for defence. There was also a discussion about broadband measurement (and thus looking at a large spectrum) or looking at specialist bands. The conclusion was that for demonstration missions broadband is useful, but for specific-use cases, a more specialised instrument will be more useful. Furthermore, SigInt from satellites must be seen primarily as a strategic addition, with which initial detection can be done. Eventually more specialised equipment can be used for the final identification.
Responsive Space Infrastructure (RSI)
This workshop was hosted by Bastiaan Bom, business development director at Dawn Aerospace, and Roel Eerkens, co-founder of T-Minus Engineering. T-Minus Engineering focuses on the development of rocket related products for the European market. Dawn Aerospace provides satellite propulsion systems in all sizes, for users who want fast manoeuvrability and low power consumption, and also develops spaceplanes that offer rapidly reusable spaceflight. In the workshop they discussed the need for quickly building a space capability (e.g., a remote sensing solution) and bringing such a satellite into space. They discussed not only the needs and typical requirements for such a capability, but they also discussed what Dutch industry and knowledge institutes could contribute.
Another topic is space debris and how it potentially endangers missions and what can be done to avoid space debris.
Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT)
Alexandra Zevenbergen is Director Consulting Services at CGI Space, with a background in Engineering and business development. CGI Space focuses mainly on helping clients implement complex, mission-critical space software systems to address fast-changing market dynamics and business demands. CGI is with S&T and NLR founders of the EGNSS Centre of Excellence which helps government, industry and users to improve robustness of their EGNSS-based applications.
Alexandra led the workshop about Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT). PNT is not only about positioning and navigation, but also on providing accurate timing and synchronisation information. Many applications depend on accurate PNT information, such as: telecommunication, (of course) navigation, timestamping sensor data, synchronising distributed energy networks, and many more. Nowadays GNSS information provides accurate PNT information, but the GNSS signal is relatively easy to disturb using jamming (on purpose or naturally) or by spoofing by a malicious agent. It is very important to protect all these applications against attacks of the GNSS signal by detecting, classifying and mitigating. For example using smart antennas, alternative sensors, and signal processing, or avoiding it all together (by M-Code or Galileo / PRS).
Next edition Space Cafe and Network&Drinks XL
The outcomes of the workshops will be used to create more specific subjects, to host even more interesting and valuable discussions at the next Space Cafe event. This will happen at the end of the year, on a later to be announced date and location.
If you are interested in networking beforehand, we host an extra large edition of our monthly Network&Drinks event on September 29. This takes place during The Space Week (September 25 till October 2), where you can visit multiple events on campus, join interactive sessions, meet other businesses, organisations and professionals, and enjoy lectures, conferences and multiple networking opportunities.
Register for N&D XL here: