Image: Small Satellites and Services International Forum

Experts from the space sector gathered at the Small Satellites and Services International Forum (SSSIF) in Malaga last week to discuss innovation of the international space sector, the present challenges and the future needs of small satellites.

The fourth edition of the event brought together more than 142 companies and around 120 speakers including manufacturers, technicians, scientists, suppliers, investors, developers, and launchers.

The event had keynote speakers including Andrés Martínez, executive director of Space Programmes of the Advanced Exploration Systems Division of NASA and responsible for four of the 10 small satellites of the Artemis I mission.

Martínez spoke of the needs and challenges of NASA’s next mission to Mars and highlighted NASA’s willingness to collaborate with the future Spanish Space Agency. Martinez also affirmed that governments and private initiative “have to go hand in hand”, because the latter needs, in addition to financial support, “regulations that may not exist” at present moment.

Regarding the challenges and needs of the future in the small satellite market, Jordi Puig, emeritus professor at the Polytechnic University of California, and creator of the CubeSat standard, spoke of the need to design small satellites in a different way: “The way we use to design satellites as unique, highly optimised, is not compatible with some of the standardisation and mass production phenomena that we are seeing right now, and we have to start thinking differently.”

Other topics highlighted was the legal framework of space, cybersecurity in the satellite field, and the challenges of defence, among other topics.

Keynote speaker, Brigadier General Juan Carlos Sánchez Delgado of the Spanish Air and Space Army, spoke of the growing importance of space from the point of view of security and defence, and how it has become a “an important role and an increasingly contested domain.”

Spain will play a relevant role

He added: “2023 is an important year within the European Union, since a space security and defence strategy is going to be published in which Spain will play a relevant role.”

Over the three days, experts reflected and discussed the current state of the sector, whose main market is North America, and reiterated the importance of creating synergies in the space sector between Europe and the United States.

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