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  • Laurence Russell

Europe and US strengthen ties in the space sector after the closure of the SSSIF forum in Malaga

The Small Satellites & Services International Forum (SSSIF) congress concluded yesterday in Malaga (Spain) after three days in which experts from the space sector have gathered to discuss and reflect on the innovation of the international space sector, the present challenges and the future needs of small satellites.

The fourth edition of the congress has obtained record figures with more than 350 attendees – 46.3% more than the previous year – from 20 different countries, thus consolidating Spain as a reference destination worldwide in the sector. The event brought together more than 142 companies and around 120 speakers including manufacturers, technicians, scientists, suppliers, investors, developers, and launchers.


The event has had exceptional keynote speakers such as that of Andrés Martínez, Executive Director of Space Programs of the Advanced Exploration Systems Division of NASA and responsible for 4 of the 10 small satellites of the Artemis I mission. Andres has shared to attendees the needs and challenges of NASA’s next mission to Mars and highlighted NASA's willingness to collaborate with the future Spanish Space Agency. Martinez also affirmed that governments and private initiative "have to go hand in hand", because the latter needs, in addition to financial support, "regulations that may not exist" at present moment.


Regarding the challenges and needs of the future in the small satellite market, Jordi Puig, emeritus professor at the Polytechnic University of California, and creator of the CubeSat standard, has brought to the table the need to design small satellites in a different way: “The way we use to design satellites as unique, highly optimized, is not compatible with some of the standardization and mass production phenomena that we are seeing right now, and we have to start thinking differently.”


At the meeting, aspects of great interest to the sector were also discussed, such as the legal framework of space, cybersecurity in the satellite field, and the challenges of defense, among other topics. Keynote speaker, Brigadier General Juan Carlos Sánchez Delgado of the Spanish Air and Space Army, has made visible the growing importance of space from the point of view of security and defense, and how it has become a "an important role and an increasingly contested domain”. The military also stated that: "2023 is an important year within the European Union, since a space security and defense strategy is going to be published in which Spain will play a relevant role." In this sense, the approval of the statues of the Spanish Space Agency are imminent, announced the Special Delegate of the Ministry of Science and Innovation for the creation of the Spanish Space Agency, Miguel Bello.


“We believe that the Spanish space sector has to continue in this line of internationalization where it is now; it is very important to make an effort to unite markets and thus become a worldwide benchmark in the space field. With the fourth edition of SSSIF, we have established ourselves as an international benchmark event and our goal is to continue growing in the number of companies, attendees, institutions, and other organizations that will definitively consolidate SSSIF as the essential meeting place for all experts in the sector worldwide”, stated Miguel Ángel Vázquez and Vicente Díaz, Directors and Co-founders of DHV Technology and organizers of the SSSIF.


For three days the experts have reflected and discussed the current state of the sector, whose main market is North America, and have reiterated in numerous presentations the importance of creating synergies in the space sector between Europe and the United States.


Sponsors of the SSSIF included the manufacturer Airbus, the Spanish technology group GMV Innovations Solutions, the reusable space rocket company PLD Space, the satellite manufacturer Open Cosmos, the Norwegian company KSAT Satellites Services, and the Spanish company Deimos Space or Invest in Andalusia, among others.


The SSSIF forum has combined two conference rooms with an area for exhibitors where various international companies and institutions highly specialized in the space sector have presented their technological developments and technical capabilities.