Singapore Space Conference Announces Singaporean Astronaut and International Cooperation

GSTC 2018 promises greater foreign cooperation in space activities.

It’s February again and that means it’s aerospace time here in Singapore.

The next couple of weeks are going to be rammed with various conferences, expos and the Singapore Air Show, with industry leaders and other interested parties flocking from all corners of the world to immerse themselves in that aerospace goodness.

First on the list of events, is the 10th annual Global Space and Technology Convention (GSTC), which is created and presented by the Singapore Space Technology Association (SSTA). The GSTC features keynotes and presentations from agency specialists and space people from the commercial space sector.

Here are some of the highlights.

1st Singaporean Astronaut

A local firm named In.Genius has been planning to put a local in “space” since 2013, with the help of a high-altitude helium balloon, much in the same way that Red Bull did with Felix Baumgartner.

At the GSTC, In.Genius gave an update to the project, stating that the “launch” will take place on May 15 in Australia.

(Left to Right) SSTA Chairman Jonathan Hung, National Research Foundation Adviser Lui Pao Chen and In.Genius Founder Lim Seng. (Image courtesy of The Straits Times.)

(Left to Right) SSTA Chairman Jonathan Hung, National Research Foundation Adviser Lui Pao Chen and In.Genius Founder Lim Seng. (Image courtesy of The Straits Times.)

The flight will involve a custom-built capsule, and previous test flights have lofted the craft up to over 30km. The project has not been without troubles however. Originally scheduled for launch in 2015, the Singaporean firm could not buy a capsule for the balloon and so had to manufacture one from scratch. Apparently, there was some difficulty in finding a pilot for the task as well—many people applied for the task but backed out when they realized that they had to pay for the training themselves

MOUs Everywhere

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) and designed to encourage greater cooperation between India and Singapore in space activities. Singaporean research institutes have already been making use of ISRO launch capabilities, and this new MOU is looking to enhance cooperation between satellite manufacturers and original equipment manufacturer hardware suppliers in both countries.

The French Aerospace Industries Association (GIFAS) also announced a MOU with SSTA, which aims to strengthen bonds between Singaporean and French space research and commercial interests as part of the France-Singapore Joint Year of Innovation. France already has a fairly noticeable space presence in Singapore, with a new Thales satellite research center being opened just a couple of years ago at Nanyang Technological University (my alma mater). So expect this presence to grow a little bit more. The actual signing of the MOU will take place at the Singapore Airshow later this week.

Finally, on the MOU signing front, Singapore’s National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) and SSTA signed an MOU enabling greater cooperation in terms of outreach and education, which will help put the diminutive nation state on the global space map.

Formation Flying

Also announced were plans for Singapore to develop a fleet of formation-flying satellites, which will be a first in Asia.

The plan will be overseen by the new Satellite Technology and Research Centre (STAR), which was jointly launched by the National University of Singapore and DSO National Laboratories last week.

“Aided by miniaturization of electronics and an increase in companies offering space launch services, small satellites promise more comprehensive coverage and flexible use at lower cost,” said S. Isawaran, Singaporean minister for trade and industry.

Focus will be on developing “deeper capabilities” such as those needed for in-orbit servicing.