Space has always been fascinating and intriguing frontier for humans. For a tiny island like Singapore, is there a space industry here? Or is space technology a foreign idea not something Singapore should dabble with?
The Space Industry Awareness Talk organised in collaboration with Singapore Space & Technology Association (SSTA) on 7 June 2017, saw some 45 engineers and developers across industries attend the evening session to network and hear from two industry experts who shared their insights, knowledge of this industry.
Is there a Space Industry in Singapore?
One of the participant, Mr John* 30s, from the Aerospace sector said, “When I was in the university, we participated in satellite projects more as an experimental stage to carry out proof of concept. I am keen to find how much has Singapore developed since then.” Another participant asked, “I am curious about the space industry and wonder what kind of educational routes are there for people who are interested and is there a career path in Singapore?”
Well, the audiences was given a treat to pick at the brains of two speakers from the space industry here at e2i in Singapore.
Mr Timothy Kauffman, Senior Vice President of TriVector Services and a former American NASA engineer, kicked off the session with a topic on trade space analysis, a concept of systems thinking, used by NASA in analysing complex resources citing examples from the US Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS). The trade space concept may seem complex at first but in reality it is not rocket science, he said. We intuitively make such decisions on a daily basis such as what mode of transport do we take when we commute to work daily. He used that example to break down the concept and how we can use this methodical approach to always try to better assess situations and make a more objective situation.
Mr Kauffman also discussed on developing a space industry in Singapore as tricky due to concerns on our level of expertise, cost and manpower. He asked, does Singapore have a talent pool for companies to come and setup a space industry here? Do we have jobs for our graduates if universities were to create a space industry track? Mr Kauffman gave a very good illustration that this issue is akin to having to light a candle at both ends, where both institutions and companies have to ignite at the same time and find a meeting point. In the last ten years, he is heartened to see rapid development in Singapore with the birth of associations such as SSTA to champion greater awareness and education for the space industry in Singapore. Companies such as ST Electronics has seeded projects to spearhead Singapore in the area of satellites and groom talent in this industry. He said, “When people think of the space industry, they often think of astronauts which in reality is touching the tip of an iceberg in a community full of diverse disciplines and expertise. Space industry taps on interdisciplinary knowledge and skills across sciences, engineering and technology and it is important to plant the seed of interest in these fields at an early age.”
First made-in-Singapore commercial satellite
The second speaker, Mr Alex Tan, Principal Engineer, ST Electronics (Satcom and Senor System) shared on the first made-in-Singapore, commercial, Near Equatorial Orbit (NEqO), earth observation satellite, TeLEOS-1 which is able to provide one meter resolution while orbiting on the equatorial belt. Alex shared on TeLEOS-1’s journey since 2015 and some of the applications for TeLEOS-1. Space projects are potentially capital intensive and thus commercialising TeLEOS-1 capabilities was a key objective for Mr Tan and his team. The efficient services and value-added services help clients and decision-makers access high temporal imagery to help them respond effectively to time sensitive events. TeLEOS-1 could be used in for disaster management, environmental monitoring, naval surveillance, mega construction project monitoring, assessment of oil stock in storage tanks and monitoring of crops and vegetation.
Participants were intrigued to learn about TeLEOS-1 capability and the question-and-answer session saw Mr Tan taking on questions such as ‘how does it maintain its orbit positioning, the satellite’s lifespan and what happens after geo-political security concerns’ and ‘is there an organisation that regulates satellites in space’?
One of the participants, Mr John* said, “I had a good time meeting like-minded people who were fascinated about the space industry like me. Singapore has stepped into satellite technology development and is home to a number of satellite operators and communication services. This growing ecosystem presents exciting opportunities for those interested to make a career in the space industry.”
It was certainly a night filled with inspiration and learning and e2i will continue to partner organisations such as SSTA to bring greater awareness to the space industry!
Do check out our e2i events calendar for our upcoming networking sessions and seminars!
*Participant’s name and details have been changed for confidentiality reasons.