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The #SpaceWatchME #WEF Interviews: Minoo Rathnasabapathy of Space Generation Advisory Council

Minoo Rathnasabapathy

In the latest SpaceWatch Middle East interview series, Torsten Kriening speaks to Minoo Rathnasabapathy of Space Generation Advisory Council. They discuss the work of the World Economic Forum, ‘Future of Space Technologies’ Council.

On 13-14 November 2016 the Annual Meeting for the Global Future Councils took place in Dubai, UAE. Once a year members of this World Economic Forum Network convene to envision and discuss future global trends, identify key factors influencing them, analyse risks and challenges. They are aimed at challenging the conventional and promoting innovative thinking on the future.

The findings are presented at the Annual Meeting in Davos as well as other key events that have an impact on the governance and global decision-making process, and shape the future of international affairs.

SpaceWatch Middle East questions for Minoo Rathnasabapathy:

What motivates you about space?

As an Aerospace Engineer, I am constantly amazed by the technical advancements of the industry, and integration of down-stream applications that we often take for granted in our everyday lives. In my capacity as the Executive Director of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), I see firsthand that space is truly a platform for diversity. I have the opportunity to work with young professionals from a multitude of countries, cultures and interests who are passionate about making an impact in an industry that captures the interest of many.

What are your top 3 space visions for 2030?

The difference between ‘established’ and ‘emerging’ actors will diminish substantially in 2030. A decrease in costs associated with access to space will see a number of smaller countries and private actors join the space industry, inevitably generating and utilizing their own data and applications. In addition, new forms of space-based partnerships and convergence of several space technologies will play a major role in the future of the sector.

Given the increasing number of new constellations being proposed to enable ubiquitous internet communication on a global scale, global development and global connectivity will be closely linked. 2030 will see a large percentage of the population have a digital presence. With this will come an increase in literacy rates, economic growth, empowerment and the potential for new jobs for people around the world, allowing everyone to participate in, and benefit from digital economy.

Lastly, space will play in important role in providing cutting-edge solutions to everyday societal problems. While this has already begun, we will be maximizing the societal and economic potential of space applications and services.

What are some of your concerns / risks for space in 2030?

With the rapid increase in the number of state and non-state actors, there is a risk that space could become over-populated. With the world becoming increasingly dependent on space systems, taking into account public and private space actors, it is crucial that we address the lack of clear national space laws and licensing regime to develop concrete policy and regulatory environment to ensure that ‘today’s satellite does not become tomorrow’s space debris’.

Space debris is easy to make, and hard to clean up. While the issue of space debris is already an issue we face now, it is likely that we will still be talking about in 2030. In addition to the threat of deliberate destruction of space assets, the probability of accidental collisions will increase with the increase in the number of active space actors.

How do you see the 4th Industrial Revolution having an impact on space?

In line with the 4th Industrial Revolution, I think there is a need for the space industry to look outside of our own ‘bubble’, and involve a more diverse audience. Exchanges between disciplines and sectors will allow the space sector to optimize space products and applications society’s changing needs. While the 4th Industrial Revolution will disrupt business models we use today, it will also identify a wider financial market to adopt and adapt.

Minoo Rathnasabapathy currently serves as the Executive Director of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), an NGO which acts in support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, based in Vienna, Austria. Before joining SGAC, she worked as an aerospace engineer on the structural design optimisation for the Ariane 5 launch system. Minoo earned her bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering in Australia, and is currently completing her PhD in Aerospace Engineering, researching the impact dynamics of novel materials used in aerospace structures. Minoo has a black belt in Shotokan Karate.

SpaceWatch Middle East thanks Minoo Rathnasabapathy of Space Generation Advisory Council for the interview.

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