Credit: IAC


Cells in the human body get their information from the brain; worker bees in a colony get their information from the hive. Similarly, members of the space community share ideas, showcase new technologies, and develop strategies for the future at conferences. One of the largest and most exciting conferences in the space industry is the International Astronautical Congress, located this year in Adelaide, Australia. This September, there is no better place in world for space worker bees to gather than Adelaide. Thousands of people from all over the world will present papers and presentations on everything from science, exploration, and technology, to space infrastructure, entrepreneurship, and space law. These papers and presentations are grouped into an array of sessions, organized into symposiums according to their category and designated by letters A to E. Each category includes a list of symposiums, which include a series of sessions and further outlining a list of papers/presentations given by experts and scholars in the space industry.

Category A: Science & Exploration

Category B: Applications & Operations

Category C: Technology

Category D: Infrastructure

Category E: Space and Society

Sounds simple enough, right? The only problem for attendees is the sheer number of papers/presentations packed into a mere handful of days that is a lot to navigate. Not to mention the many additional special events, plenary sessions, and highlight lectures spread throughout the conference. Anyone attending the congress must prioritize those sessions which are most relevant to their interests and needs. The purpose of this article is to help space entrepreneurs navigate the IAC by highlighting sessions and events directly related to space entrepreneurship. It may also be helpful to know that several Astropreneurs.space co-founders are presenting at the congress and will be providing real-time social media updates during some key sessions from our accounts on twitter and on facebook.

For a complete, organized list of each category, symposium, session, and paper/presentation, along with its general description, please refer to the IAC technical program.

Please also refer to Figure 1.1, which provides a color coordinated timing chart for the IAC in general, and Figure 1.2, which provides a color coordinated timing chart for each category organized by day.

Not going to the IAC? The list of paper sessions could still be useful for you to find out about the latest trends and technologies in the space industry!

Paper Session Highlights

Although you cannot go wrong when choosing symposiums to attend, one of the most relevant IAC symposiums for aspiring space entrepreneurs will undoubtedly be E6. Business Innovation SymposiumAccording to the IAC technical program, the purpose of this symposium is to showcase “papers that observe, study, analyse, describe, and/or propose any topic related to space activities that have commercial objectives, whether from an academic and/or practitioner perspective.” The individual sessions included within this symposium are as follows:

1:  New space individuals, projects, programs, or business units: innovation, entrepreneurship & investment at the microscopic level of analysis 

2: New space industry segments, firms, actor groups, and multiple programs: innovation, entrepreneurship & investment at the mesoscopic level of analysis 

3: New space at the national, international, and overall industry levels: innovation, entrepreneurship & investment at the macroscopic level of analysis 

4: Interactive Presentations

Each of these sessions include a host of presentations directly related to commercial aspects of the space industry. For example, your very own Astropreneurs will be presenting a paper titled, “Entrepreneurial and Innovation Ecosystem for Space: A Handbook on How to Start Your Own Space Company” at the “New space individuals, projects, programs, or business units” session (E6.1). There will also be presentations on everything from space business models, government partnerships, and new space applications, to national case studies, space resources, and space industry infrastructure.

To further investigate the host of papers within E6, just click on any of the hyperlinks provided above for direct access to each session and its associated papers.

In addition to the general categories of business and entrepreneurship, other papers/presentations are focused on practical examples and present current solutions, projects, and business models that astropreneurs can draw on for inspiration. To help connect astropreneurs with the papers and presentations most relevant to them, we created a list of “cherry-picked” presentations falling into four space market categories: terrestrial, sub-orbital, orbital, and deep space. Below are the list of presentations with a short description pulled from the IAC technical program.

In the case of terrestrial markets, we selected: 

  • B1.5: Earth Observation Applications and Economic Benefits, focusing on the creation of value-added products and services from Earth observation (EO) data, including software, algorithms, and value chains.
  • B1.6: Big Data, Data Cubes and new platforms to exploit large-scale, multi-temporal EO Data, focusing on business models and geographic information system (GIS) platforms for the optimal use of large volumes of EO data.  
  • B2.1: Advanced Space Communications and Navigation Systems including architectures, infrastructures and applications.
  • B2.4: Advanced Satellite Services presenting downstream services such as positioning, communications and broadcasting.
  • D6.3Enabling safe commercial spaceflight: vehicles and spaceports focusing on addressing new and existing spaceports and factors that launch vehicle and spaceplane operators may use in evaluating the selection of a launch and/or landing location.
  • E1.5Enabling the Future – Developing the Space Workforce focusing on the challenges, opportunities and innovative approaches to developing the current and future global space workforce.
  • E1.7New Worlds – Non-Traditional Space Education and Outreach focusing on novel and non-standard methods of space education and outreach in non-traditional areas and target groups. This session does not include programs that are conducted within the formal education system.
  • E3.2Private Endeavour in Space Exploration aiming to reflect on the current evolution of the space exploration domain and its impacts on the legal framework in place and in particular the Outer Space Treaty (OST) and identify potential evolution to consider for future national legislations and the preparation of the next UNISPACE.
  • E5.2Models for Successfully Applying Space Technology Beyond Its Original Intent focusing on a variety of approaches that organizations can adopt for the successful transfer of technologies that impact new products and services for space and non-space applications.
  • E5.4Space Assets and Disaster Management focusing on explore the role space assets can play in situations requiring disaster management and emergency response.

For suborbital markets:

  • B3.2: Commercial Human Spaceflight Programs covering both suborbital and orbital commercial missions and concepts.
  • D3.3Novel Concepts and Technologies to Enable Future Building Blocks in Space Exploration and Development focusing on addressing cross cutting research topics and/or technologies to enable future building blocks in space exploration and development. Papers are solicited in these and related areas.
  • E7.4Space law Developments in Asia-Pacific: Diverging national space legislation with regard to the applicability of space law to suborbital flights focusing on the legal aspects of exponential growth in space-related technology, which opens the possibilities for a vast array of new space and high altitude activities, including proposed sub-orbital and low orbit activities.
  • E7.5Current Developments in Space Law focusing on addressing the most recent legal developments of space activities since the last congress with particular relevance to the practice of states and the space community in managing its operations. One such field is that of export control and control of dual-use goods.

For orbital markets:

  • A5.3/B3.6: Human and Robotic Partnerships in Exploration – Joint session of the Human Spaceflight and Exploration Symposia addresses the new systems and technologies for human/robotic partnerships and their role in shaping future missions.
  • A6.6: Space Debris Removal Concepts discusses the current ground and space-based removal techniques.
  • B3.2(see above under suborbital markets)
  • B3.3: Utilization & Exploitation of Human Spaceflight Systems looking at past achievements, current plans and future outlooks for manned vehicles in Earth Orbit and for further exploration.
  • B3.4/B6.5: Flight & Ground Operations of HSF Systems to learn about government and commercial human spaceflight solutions, opportunities, processes and facilities.
  • B3.7: Advanced Systems, Technologies, and Innovations for Human Spaceflight focusing on advanced technologies and innovation driving the future of manned missions, including technologies, processes, procedures and lessons learnt.
  • B4.3: Small Satellite Operations discusses  cost-effective approaches for Small Satellite Operations, with emphasis on new missions with new models of operation to reduce mission lifecycle costs and to minimize the cost impact of mission extensions.
  • B4.4: Small Earth Observation Missions providing information to decision makers, scientists, engineers, and managers about cost-effective small satellite missions, instruments, technologies, and designs of both current and planned Earth- and near-Earth missions.
  • B4.9: Small Satellite Missions Global Technical Session focusing on operational missions or mature proposals for small satellite systems and related topics. Describes ideas with international and business relevance, especially highlighting ingenuity or innovation.
  • B5.2: Integrated Applications End-to-End Solutions is a forum for end-to-end solutions, including case studies, proof-of-concept missions, and current projects that provide, or could provide, innovative user-driven solutions.
  • B6.2: New Space Operations Concepts and Advanced Systems focusing on new space operations, and addresses advanced concepts, systems and tools for operating new types of missions, improving mission output in quality and quantity, and reducing cost.
  • D1.3Technologies to Enable Space Systems focusing on innovative, technological developments that are usually high risk, but which have the potential to significantly enhance the performance of existing and new space systems.
  • D2.2Launch Services, Missions, Operations, and Facilities focusing on current and planned launch services and support, including economics of space transportation systems, financing, insurance, licensing.
  • D2.5Technologies for Future Space Transportation Systems focusing on  technologies enabling new reusable or expendable launch vehicles and in-space transportation systems.
  • D3.3: (see above under suborbital markets)
  • E3.3The Demand Side of the Space Economic Equation: Understanding and Evaluating the Changing Market Dynamics in Space Activities focusing on space business sectors such as telecommunications, navigation, and remote sensing as their markets become saturated and rapid growth slows.
  • E3.5-E7.632nd Joint IAA/IISL Round Table: Technological and legal challenges for on-orbit servicing focusing on presenting technical and legal challenges of on-orbit servicing.
  • E7.5: (see above under suborbital markets)

For Deep Space Markets:

  • A5.4/D2.8Space Transportation Solutions for Deep Space Missions focusing on space transportation capabilities, existing or under study, for human space exploration missions, new science, program architectures, technology demonstrations as well as the issues of scientific and political motivations and international cooperation.
  • B3.3: (see above under orbital markets)
  • B3.7: (see above  under orbital markets)
  • B4.8: Small Spacecraft for Deep-Space Exploration discusses new and emerging systems and mission applications for deep-space exploration using small spacecraft.
  • D3.3: (see above under suborbital markets)
  • D4.5Space Mineral Resources, Asteroid Mining and Lunar/Mars in situ focusing on analyzing the current state of the art of the technology, economics, law & policy related to Space Mineral Resource (SMR) opportunities. The objective is to put a developmental roadmap anchored in realities of engineering, economics and legal/policy.
  • E7.5: (see above under suborbital markets)

Plenary Sessions

Host Plenary on the Value of the Global Space Industry

This panel will feature experts from around the world discussing how the space industry is evolving, and placing this in relationship with the Australian space policy. Some interesting topics that will be discussed include the challenges and opportunities the industry is facing globally, the transition from government-funded models to private industry and the role of startups and entrepreneurs in the future.

When: Monday 25 September 2017 from 18:15 – 19:30, Hall C

Other plenary sessions may be interesting for certain industries, e.g.

Site Visit to the Institute for Telecommunications Research, University of South Australia.

For any astropreneur interested in  satellite communications, high-speed data communications, flexible radios and networks or computational and theoretical neuroscience, this visit is where you can hear about cutting-edge research in these fields from the largest research facility on these topics present in Australia.

When: Wednesday 27th September 2016

The Global Networking Forum

The Global Networking Forum (GNF) is a series of panels hosting by the IAC that features leading members of the space community from renowned entities like NASA, Boeing, Planet, the International Institute of Space Law, and many more. These panels include a series of topics covering everything from recent technological developments, international cooperation, and space law, to space resource utilization, new launch platforms, and sustainability in space. A detailed schedule of the GNF is available here.

WE’RE GOING TO MARS! (Elon Musk Talk)

Don’t forget that Elon Musk will speaking at this year’s IAC on the afternoon of September 27th. He will be updating the space community (and the world) on the progress of SpaceX’s mission to create a human colony on Mars. You won’t want to miss this historic presentation! For more information regarding this event, check out here.

The Space Generation Advisory Council is holding a special event called SpaceGen Entrepreneurs

This event promises to be an exciting opportunity to connect astropreneurs with other startups, investors, and incubators. It features an expert panel, TED-style talks from successful startups and plenty of networking opportunities at the cocktail following the event. In our opinion it’s the place to be on Wednesday night!

When: Wednesday 27th September, 16:00 -18:00, Hall C

Figure 1.1 – International Astronautica Congress program at a glance
Figure 1.2 – International Astronautical Congress schedule by category

Posted by Paola Belingheri and Marshall McKellar