25 September 2015. On 21 & 22 September 2015 ESPI hosted its 9th Autumn Conference, entitled “Access to Space and the Evolution of Space Activities”. The Autumn Conference is an annual ESPI event which takes place in September and includes a meeting of the authors of the upcoming Yearbook on Space Policy as its centrepiece activity.
The conference, moderated by Herbert Allgeier and Per Tegnér, was opened by ESPI Director Peter Hulsroj, who provided a scene-setting on the importance of the outlook of declining launch costs and novel approaches to space exploitation and its potential impacts on space sector and activities at large.
During the first day, the speakers of the conference focused on the overall trends in access to space, thereby offering a panorama perspective on the elements that ultimately define how other space activities are affected in the long run. This started with an opening speech by CNES Director of Launchers Jean-Marc Astorg, who presented an overview and future outlook of the state-of-the-art capabilities in the European launching sector. Following this, Cristina Chaplain, Director of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, explained how the commercial space sector in the United States is currently affecting governmental space programmes. Subsequently, the potential of new space activities in the future was explored in a presentation by Mr. Richard DalBello, Vice President Business Development and Government Affairs at Virgin Galactic.
On the second day, the assumption of declining launch cost in the future was taken a step further. In the morning session future scenarios for the different traditional categories of space utilisation were be explored. This started off with a presentation dealing with the future of space applications, given by Eurisy Secretary General Stefaan de Mey. Then, Robert Veldhuyzen used his insights and experience as former ESA staff member to assess the future development of human space flight and space exploration. This was followed by a presentation given by Professor Shuang-Nan Zhang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences on the potential impacts of what he coined “efficient access to space” on space astronomy and scientific progress. In the last presentation before the lunch break, Leopold Summerer, Head of the ESA Advanced Concepts Team, offered an outlook on the evolution on other enabling and game-changing space technologies that might fundamentally impact the status-quo of human activities in outer space.
In the afternoon light was shed on the evolving needs in terms of governance, strategies and approaches that will arise in the playing field of space anno 2030. This included a presentation by Nina Witjes, scientific researcher at the Austrian Institute of International Affairs, on how future remote sensing capabilities might impact transparency building and create a new landscape for various societal activities. After that, philosopher and Wichita State University Lecturer James Schwartz presented some ethical constrains on near-Earth resource exploitation in the wide sense of the meaning. The European options to deal with the prospect of falling cost of utilizing space were explored in the final presentation of the conference, which was given by Jesse Phaler, Head of the Industrial Return Management Office at ESA.
The conference was closed by ESPI Director Peter Hulsroj, who drew conclusions on the overall findings of the event and the interesting reflections that will be addressed further in the Yearbook on Space Policy 2015.
This year, for the third time, the event was filmed. The videos are available on our website and on our YouTube channel. The speakers’ presentations can already be consulted in the sections “Past ESPI Conferences” in the drop-down menu under “Events” (click here for direct link)