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IIT Madras partners with the U.S. Consulate General Chennai to host Space Technology Conclave

By   /  October 15, 2022  /  Comments Off on IIT Madras partners with the U.S. Consulate General Chennai to host Space Technology Conclave

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CHENNAI : Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras), the U.S. Consulate General Chennai and Indian Space Association are organizing a three-day Space Technology Conclave  starting today (October 15, 2022) until October 17, 2022.

Titled ‘Space Technology: The Next Business Frontier,’ the conclave brings together major stakeholders in the space technology sector to explore ways to optimize business opportunities and collaboration across the Indo-Pacific region.

Working Group members from this Conclave are analysing challenges, risks and opportunities for entrepreneurs investing in the sector. A key outcome of this conclave will be establishing the ‘Association of Space Entrepreneurs in the Indo-Pacific’ (ASEIP). A White Paper will also be shared with stakeholders in India, the U.S., and other Indo-Pacific countries.

Addressing the inaugural session today (15th October 2022), Prof. Rajeev Jyoti, Distinguished Scientist and Director (Technical), Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe), said, “Instead of ISRO only being an integrator of the entire space ecosystem, the space sector must be taken forward by entrepreneurs and space businesses. While technology innovation is the main thing for any business, space or otherwise, we need innovation and finance as well, among other things. Space, in the next 10 years, is shifting from geo-satellites to constellation of satellites. There are estimates that 10,000 satellites are likely to be launched in the near future…Today, when we talk about space exploration, we also talk about ‘space tourism’.”

Further, Prof. Rajeev Jyoti said, “According to a newly-announced policy, if a space object is not functionally working, it has to be removed within 5 years in order to avoid space debris in place of the earlier 25 years. We have to develop technologies for active space debris removal. There are many scenarios where AI is being used for building satellites, quantum technologies and other areas.”

The Space Technology conclave will focus on four key themes:

  1. Space Policy
  2. International Collaboration
  3. Scientific Research and Development
  4. Space Entrepreneurship and Business

Delivering the Chief Guest Address, Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai, Vice President, Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology, said, ““Post COVID-19 and the prevailing geopolitical scenario, there is a new norm. There is an urgent need among like-minded countries to have a holistic space policy that encourages international collaboration. We should set the trend for that. Not only for scientific research and development but also in space entrepreneurship and business. India has a well-developed space program boosted by the realization of indigenous systems made for societal applications. Today, India is poised not only to go to the moon but create a moon colony.”

Further Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai said, “Today, the emerging ecosystem for space sector in India is very conducive for international collaboration in space business…Beyond PSLV, the GSLV is also getting ready for space launch. There are more than 100 space-tech start-ups in India with a rapid growth in the space sector….The private sector is said to create a revolution in the space economy. In this context, I see this Conclave playing a key role.”

Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai added, “This conclave is a focused project with the outcome being a white paper that will lead to establishment of ‘Association of Space Entrepreneurs in the Indo-Pacific’ (ASEIP). When I look at the organizers and delegates of this conclave, it is a formidable composition. IIT Madras doing extremely well in this part of the world in the space sector with Prof. Satya Chakravarthy (of IIT Madras) involved in many projects.”

Working Groups have been formed to explore the four themes, and more than 70 invited Working Group members along with the four Chairpersons from more than 15 countries including India, USA, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Germany, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia, among others, will be participating in this conclave.

Delivering an address on the ‘Conclave from a Government Perspective,’ Mr. Drew Schufletowski, Minister Counselor for Economic, Environment, Science and Technology Affairs, U.S. Embassy, New Delhi, said, “Bilateral trade between India and the US is at a higher level than ever before and I see the potential for collaboration in many areas. I believe India and the US are natural partners in the space sector. I see immense opportunities for expanding bilateral and multilateral collaboration in space sector, particularly the space entrepreneurship. Back in 1963, NASA and ISRO worked together to launch the first Indian sounding rocket. Since then, the two space agencies have collaborated on numerous projects including moon exploration.”

Mr. Drew Schufletowski added, “Currently, NASA and ISRO are collaborating on one of NASA’s biggest project – the NASA-ISRO SAR Mission (NISAR), a joint Earth-observing mission. I envisage the collaboration between the two agencies to continue to expand. Where I see the greatest collaboration involves the space sector. India’s space sector is undergoing a transformation with private sector taking a more influential role in key elements of space exploration. Indian firms are making their own space constellations for earth observations and other areas.”

Government space agencies participating include the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and the Australian Space Agency (ASA).

Delivering the welcome address, Prof. Satya Chakravarthy, Professor of Aerospace Engineering Department, IIT Madras, and Coordinator, National Centre for Combustion Research and Development (NCCRD), IIT Madras, said, “One of the more interesting and important changes, particularly in India, is participation of private sector in the space sector, which gathered momentum during the pandemic in 2020 with the launch of Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center… We have come a long way with more than 100 space start-ups, which will unleash the huge potential in terms of economic activity. We would bring in a large number of South-East Asian representatives. Our goal is beyond the three-day conclave. There has been a long-drawn process leading up to this conclave.”

Addressing the conclave, Mr. Michael Mealling, General Partner, Starbridge Venture Capital, USA, said, “As a venture capitalist, I invest in companies around the world. We are building something that rest of the world can use. One of the things I am encouraged, for every one of the companies represented here, each one is unique. People in their countries are looking at space as a sector unique to you and this will teach about the real human problems we are here to solve. Speak to the people, solve their problems and that is how businesses are built.”

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