SPACE

UK Space Agency

What does zero gravity does to the human body? How do we identify and prevent the zero gravity effects? Will impending space travel need to take effects of weightlessness into consideration?

Not having to bear weight on your feet sounds relaxing, but in the long term there are many health problems associated with it. Bones and muscles weaken, and other changes also take place within the body. One of the functions of the ISS is to study how astronaut health is affected by long periods in weightlessness.

SKA Organisation

In 2018, a group of organizations from all of the world will begin construction of the largest radio telescope ever built, the Square Kilometre Array(SKA).

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will, when complete, be the largest scientific facility on, or off, the Earth. It will be physically huge, spanning two continents and generating data volumes many times greater than that of the entire internet.

With one million square meters of collecting area and enough optical fiber to wrap around the Earth twice, this marvel of modern engineering will be sensitive enough to detect airport radar on a planet 50 light years away. SKA will also generate 700 terabytes of data every second. At full capacity, the SKA’s aperture arrays are expected to produce 100 times more data than the entire Internet. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that such a deluge of information creates a big data problem, perhaps the biggest we have ever encountered.

Solving this big data problem for the space industry requires innovation in the data storage, processing, and access (or visualization) technologies, which, in turn, creates ample opportunities for startups and large data crunching companies to take advantage of.

Dr Phil Diamond will discuss the scientific motivation for SKA, the international partnership and the observatory that will be built. He will summarise the current status of the detailed design of the SKA and highlight the timeline for the project, including the start of construction planned for 2018.

Astro Scale / Stardust

The most effective short-term means of reducing the space debris growth rate is through the prevention of in-orbit explosions.

The only effective long-term means of stabilising the space debris environment at a safe level is through the removal of mass (five to ten large objects per year) from regions with high object densities and long orbital lifetimes.

Both types of mitigation measures need to be applied broadly and in a timely manner to avoid uncontrolled growth of the debris environment. If mitigation concepts are applied insufficiently, or too late, some orbit regions, particularly the valuable 800- to 1400-km altitude, may experience a collisional cascading process that could render these regions too dangerous for space activities within a few decades.

In this session we will focus on the international effort currently being done to minimise space debris.

Spaceport Sweden

Spaceport Sweden is one of Europe’s tourist space gems, headed by its high profile CEO, Karin Nilsdotter.

She wants Spaceport Sweden to become: “A platform for cross-sector innovation, establishing commercial human spaceflight as a new industry for tourism, research and education”.

Spaceport Sweden one day hopes to offer flights launching from Kiruna, Sweden into suborbital space aboard space planes owned by Virgin Galactic, XCOR and other commercial spaceflight companies. Officials with the spaceport are planning to build a new visitor's complex to open the spaceflight experience up to more people each year.

Zipline

A start up on the West Coast called Zipline has launched its fleet of a small fixed-wing drones.

It’s first contract, with the Rwandan government, is designed to carry medical supplies to remote locations. It will begin operating a service in July.

The fleet of robot planes will initially cover more than half the tiny African nation, creating a highly automated network to shuttle blood and pharmaceuticals to remote locations in hours rather than weeks or months

Immarsat

The need for all people and things to be connected in an accessible way regardless of time or location is a challenge that many are attempting to address right now. Never has there been so much interest and exploration in ubiquitous connectivity and space has a significant part to play here. Inmarsat has been providing global mobile connectivity for decades but the opportunity to engage with new technology developers has been limited by the very nature of our industry. Until recently. Space is now more accessible, better understood, and more engaging to a broader audience than ever before.

The future of delivering global, mobile connectivity requires the development of both innovative new satellite communications technologies as well as different partnerships to build new infrastructure, new business models, new solutions, products and applications to address connectivity needs and wants across the world and across all industries. From hybrid space and ground-based technologies to new functionalities operating over existing satellite networks, this is a key focus for Inmarsat, particularly with our latest constellation, Global Xpress and our next generation of satellites, Inmarsat-6.

ICE Cubes

The International Space Station (ISS) is a great technical achievement. The policy of the European Space Agency (ESA) about the utilization of the Columbus module changed recently, opening to the possibility of accessing the ISS on a commercial basis. This will allow for the establishment of services supporting the performance of science and technological development in a wide range of disciplines.

One of the most promising aspects is related to the possible biomedical advancements coming from the study of space-grown protein crystals. One of the commercial services under preparation, with the support of the European Union (EU), is centered on the PharmaLab facility and aims at boosting the research in the pharmaceutical field thanks to the singular effect of the microgravity on crystals quality, associated with the unprecedented capability of performing in situ X-ray diffraction measurements. This crystallography technique will be applied to protein-pharmaceutical compounds molecular complexes crystallized in orbit, for applications in the sector of structure-based drug design and development.

Innovate UK

GPS provides free of charge precise time and position information worldwide. In a world of instant communications, much of our global telecom infrastructure relies on GPS to provide precise time and frequency information. For instance, telephone companies take advantage of GPS to synchronize their global telecom networks with inexpensive timing receivers.

But despite how much we rely on the Global Positioning System (GPS) for position information and as a time (and hence frequency) base, GPS remains vulnerable to natural and man-made obstacles. From receivers in poor geographic locations, to lost satellite signals, to jammed reception, GPS has at times been sensitive to interruptions.

In this session we will focus on the vulnerabilities of GNSS systems and the Galileo programme.

Galileo is to provide an indigenous alternative high-precision positioning system upon which European nations can rely, independently from the Russian GLONASS and US GPS systems, in case they were disabled by their operators. The use of basic (low-precision) Galileo services will be free and open to everyone. The high-precision capabilities will be available for paying commercial users. Galileo is intended to provide horizontal and vertical position measurements within 1-metre precision, and better positioning services at high latitudes than other positioning systems.

Orbital Insight

A company that provides data analytics of satellite imagery, announced this week that it had closed an $8.7 million Series A round led by Sequoia. Bloomberg Beta, Google Ventures, citizen.vc and Lux Capital also participated in the round. Sequoia partner Bill Coughran of Sequoia will be joining the board of Orbital Insight as part of the deal.

Orbital Insight was founded by Dr. James Crawford, an artificial intelligence researcher and entrepreneur who has experience building intelligent systems for NASA and other organizations. He was also previously the Engineering Director of Google Books, an experience that helped lead to the idea for his new company.

“What this company really is is a Google Books like pipeline – that is, an automated AI pipeline – designed for understanding and processing satellite imaging at scale,” Crawford explained to me.

The past few years have seen an explosion of satellite imaging companies. Older companies like DigitalGlobe continue to put up satellites and produce reams of detailed data. However, they’ve been joined by a number of startups such as Planet Labs, Skybox and more who are putting up a myriad number of satellites.

The result of this influx is that between the various companies watching the planet from above, it’s possible to see changes being made in particular parts of the globe over time, and to track and monitor those changes. Those changes, in turn, can be used to inform decision makers and investors about the status of the economy, agriculture production, and more.

To analyze these images, Orbital Insight has developed machine learning programs that can be “taught’ to find and analyze data points of interest. During its seed phase, for instance, the company used a human to tag cars in parking lots while the program observed it. After a few hundred tags, the program “learns” to identify cars in other parking lot images without the human being involved.