UK Space Conference 2017

It has been almost a month since the UK Space Conference, but I’ve only just found the time to reflect on this biennial event that cannot be missed by anyone in or interested in the UK space industry. Having attended the 2015 conference in Liverpool previously, this year’s one was equally unmissable.

Last time, I was invited to the ESERO-UK Teacher Conference and had the opportunity to walk around the exhibition and attend a small number of talks. However, this year, I attended as a delegate of SGAC, and was able to make the most of the wide array of talks on offer.

The majority of talks I went to on the first day were on the use of space data for novel uses, including but not limited to: building surveying, disaster relief and management, tools for international development, deforestation, climate change analysis, and more. The varied sources of data available is truly astounding, especially when you consider freely and openly available sources like the Sentinel satellites from the Copernicus programme.

The second day was spent meeting various academics, and attending talks on using space as a research platform and appreciating the myriad multidisciplinary projects that are being worked on within the space context. Although my PhD is not directly related to the space industry, it is by networking with people at events like this that I am able to form links between my research and that which is being done in the space sector. The Space Conference is a great springboard to potential collaborations.

On the final day, I spent most of my time on the exhibition floor speaking with representatives from various companies that are commonly known within the industry but also new names in the field. The conference is also a great opportunity to learn about the work of SMEs and startups looking to disrupt the traditional space industry with technological innovations and divergent thinking.

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Image credits: MrAkashTrivedi, UK Space Conference 2017 (featured image)

Despite the gala dinner and the Arthur C. Clarke Awards being really good, it wasn’t the highlight of the conference. That goes to my meeting of Tim Peake – the first British ESA astronaut, and the inspiration that rekindled my motivation to become an astronaut myself.

The conference was a great opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones. I have been to two and I don’t see myself missing the next one. I would recommend the conference to anyone like myself who is interested in the industry and wants to take their interest and make it into something more.

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