by Chiara Moenter
During this week’s Space Café, SpaceWatch.Global publisher Torsten Kriening caught up with space Social Media Specialist Remco Timmermans, live from the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) exhibition floor in Dubai.
Remco is an experienced space business professional, with 15+ years of experience in business analysis, process improvement, corporate communication, social media management, space outreach, space education, and training. Remco is the owner and founder of SpaceSide OÜ, CEO of the SpaceUp Foundation, a faculty member of the International Space University, and on the Executive Board of Directors at Powering Space.
This week, he and Torsten talk about the Powering Space, highlights and key takeaways from the IAC, the need to involve the younger generation, and the joys of networking face to face at THE space meeting of the year.
“The IAC is the biggest space event, the biggest global space event that’s held every year”
Remco states that the IAC is the place to be. Not just for a self-proclaimed space nerd but also to share knowledge, exchange information, and network.
“And we were all sharing knowledge and learning from each other. So that’s the key reason for being here. And being at the IAC every year. It’s the space events of the year as far as I’m concerned.”
In his role with the IAF, Remco is a member of the Space Education Outreach Committee, a group of about 30 people that meet at the IAC.
“The IAF is a membership organization. But it’s also an organization that uses a lot of different people with different interests, different communities, that are represented at the IAC. In the different symposia that we have 20 different parallel sessions, and each session is led by one of these specialist committees.”
Dubai in Space Fever
Dubai is not only the host of the IAC, but also there was also the space week at the Expo. Not only did a lot of astronauts show up, but there were also many engineers and technical specialists.
“It was sort of a mini-IAC if you like that took place at the expo where all the countries showed the best of their space program.”
Since this IAC was the first time this conference was hosted in the UAE region, it generates a lot of drive surrounding the space industry of the UAE.
“As everyone who reads the news in the space industry knows the Emirates are definitely pushing themselves as a spacefaring nation a big time with very, very ambitious plans.”
“Last year, we went online, but this year, the pandemic has an influence in the sense that everything is socially distance.”
The pandemic has caused a change to the setup of the IAC. Wearing a mask is normalcy and only half the amount of people could attend, as many countries still have travel restrictions. But that does not mean that there aren’t great prospects for the future.
“This version of the IAC, may be smaller in number of people, number of exhibitors, but at the same time, it represents the future there’s the short-term future that the post pandemic world in the sense that everybody here is really happy to meet again in person, looking each other in the face and doing business.”
Involvement of the youth
Over the last few years, the IAF has changed its image and has recognised the importance of involving the younger generations. This has shown to be a great influx with 50% of all delegates at the IAC being students and young professionals – representing the voice of the new generation in space.
“The IAF as a community started to recognize that if this industry wants to move into the future and evolve as any industry should, you need to bring in the young generation.”
“In the last years there has been a lot of emphasis within the IAF to bring the younger generations on board, by starting workforce development sessions, the Young Professionals part of IAF, but also by adding the SGAC to one of the key organizers.”
Key takeaways from the IAC
When talking about his key takeaways, Remco joked that aside from a nice new keychain, the main highlight was to see people in person and to network in real-life.
“Something that is shared between everyone is that despite the lessons from last year, it is good to see everyone again and to meet in person and to do the networking. The human psychology is really built for is to meet people in real life and to meet each other. And that is the key thing that I hear here. It’s so great to see people again, after one and a half or two years that we haven’t seen each other.”
He also states how difficult it is to keep up with space news, even the news happening at the conference itself, because so much is happening in the space industry.
“It’s impossible to catch up with the news. As a social media person, I follow the hashtag, IAC 2021. I’d say every hour, just to make sure that I don’t miss anything that’s going on right here, because I may be sitting in room a while the good stuff happens in another room.”
To listen to Remco Timmermans’s insights and experiences live from the IAC, you can watch the full program here:
Chiara Moenter is the event coordinator of SpaceWatch.Global and the cofounder of “SDG18: Space for All”. Currently she is doing her masters in Sustainability Science at Maastricht University.