Recap of The VSV Symposium: Defying the Dark

The VSV Symposium, themed “Defying the Dark,” explored the challenges and possibilities of human space exploration and offered network opportunities for students interested in space. Held at TU Delft, the event attracted over 600 attendees, including students from different fields, reflecting a wide interest in space exploration. The symposium featured workshops, presentations, and discussions led by experts in various areas related to space. 

About The VSV Symposium

The VSV Symposium was organized by the Space Department of the VSV ‘Leonardo da Vinci’. Since 1945, the Society of Aerospace Students ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ has grown into the largest society of its kind in the Benelux, offering various activities for its members. With speakers from diverse fields such as biomedical engineering and philosophy, the gathering aimed to go beyond traditional discussions in aerospace engineering. The theme, “Defying the Dark,” referred to humanity’s resilience in space and our curiosity about our place in the universe. 

Impressions

Nora van den Heuvel, a master’s student in Space Exploration at the Aerospace Engineering faculty of TU Delft and team member of NL Space Campus, shared her impressions about the symposium. “I was really inspired by the symposium, as the presentations provided different views on the past and future of human space exploration.” Nora found the discussions to be insightful, showcasing both the mental, physical, and societal complexities and possibilities of sending humans to space. 

Reflecting on the diverse audience of the event, Nora observed, “Most of those people were students but a large number of these students were not from the faculty of Aerospace Engineering which shows the broader and growing interest people regarding human space flight.” 

During the workshop by TNO, Nora participated in a session focused on risk management for space system engineering. She shared, “We got presented with a possible system for laser communication between Earth and a satellite orbiting the moon and had to brainstorm the possible risks that the system could encounter and how to mitigate them.” A valuable workshop, gaining insights into TNO’s approach to managing risks in space-related projects. 

In the afternoon happening was an engaging discussion by Dr. Maybritt Kuypers’ on the medical aspects of space travel. Andre Kuipers’ firsthand account of his space journey also left a profound impact on Nora. She shared, “It was really inspiring to hear how he viewed the Earth now that he had seen it from space, talking about the Overview Effect.” 

The symposium’s variety extended to artistic expression, with a theatrical interlude by Judy Lijdsman titled ‘You’re Too Cute to Be An Astronaut’. The play a refreshing addition to the presentations. Nora remarks: “It was funny and made me curious for the rest of the play.” 

The afternoon presentations gave a peek into the future of human spaceflight with discussions on upcoming projects like Ariane Group’s SUSIE and Starlab by Joost van Tooren and Marc Peter Heß. The symposium concluded with a panel discussion moderated by Rob Postma, exploring the societal implications of human presence in space. Appreciated was the addition of a philosopher to the panel, noting that it gave all the technical discussions more context. 

A Space for Connection

The VSV Symposium ended with a networking session, allowing attendees to connect with speakers and fellow participants. The event aimed to spark curiosity and collaboration across disciplines, leaving attendees inspired by the possibilities of space exploration. Nora found the symposium to be an enriching experience, broadening her understanding of human space exploration and igniting her curiosity about its future endeavors. This symposium is held every year, alternating between space- and aviation technology, and is open for all students to participate in.  

 

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