Highlights of New Space Europe

22 November 2017

In the first space conference in Europe to focus on the newspace industry, NewSpace Europe took place in the heart of Luxembourg City centred around the theme “New Frontiers of Opportunity”. Through a mix of talks, panel sessions and networking opportunities the conference highlighted the huge growth in the sector and the opportunities for budding entrepreneurs and startups to shape and lead the industry.

With over 200 attendees the NewSpace Europe showcased Luxembourg as a rising international player in the growing industry. Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider said “Luxembourg has been firmly focused on the future”. The industry is projected to grow to as much as 1.1 Trillion USD in 2040, so now is a high time to invest in the opportunities of tomorrow. Luxembourg has proved with space initiatives such as SpaceResources.Lu that it is indeed forward-thinking and could be an example for others to follow as it attracts newspace companies to the country.

Shortly before the conference, it was announced that the Luxembourg Future Fund (LFF) will invest in Spire and the company will set up its European Headquarters in the Duchy. “As part of the agreement, the Luxembourg government will also provide research and development grants and other funding to support Spire’s activities in the country.” – SpaceNews

“Europe is the place to be” said Carissa Christensen, CEO of Bryce Space. “This is why Bryce Space is starting a European Venture”.

As much as there are many great opportunities, there are many obstacles Europe also needs to overcome, as discussed in this panel session. A challenge also is equipping people with the skills of the future as technology rapidly advances. Important is also the right framework for space startups to thrive in Europe.

A new dynamic that the American organisers at Space Frontier Foundation brought was an insight from the U.S. new space industry and how many established startups such as Planetary Resources see opportunities in Europe. The company aims to launch the first commercial asteroid prospecting mission by 2020 and too has gained support from the Luxembourg government, who are leading the way in securing the rights to space resources. Luxembourg is second only to the US in securing a framework on space resources.

There is also a lot we can learn from the way that the U.S. does things and its cultural difference in accepting failure. Europe often struggles with the way it manages risk and understanding of the grand challenges in the space industry. It was highlighted how NASA has financed studies on commercial space has provided a good level of understanding within the industry itself has proven very valuable.

Gwynne Shotwell, President & COO of SpaceX highlighted the need for public-private partnerships that are “essential to move forward in space”. She talked about SpaceX’s plans to develop a space transportation system capable of sending humans to other planets using the BFR.

Initiatives such as the NASA Frontier Laboratory – an 8-week AU R&D accelerator programme working under a public-private partnership are helping pave the way for this future development by partnering with companies such as Intel.

Established companies such as Thales Alenia Space recognise the need to ‘leverage itself in its ecosystem’ by working with incubators and accelerators such as Station F and Starburst Accelerator.

All in all the first NewSpace Europe conference was a great success and brought a new dynamic through its engaging sessions and diverse audience. Stay tuned for new interviews as we spoke to some of the key influencers at the event.