ISU Space Studies Program SSP17 the End is Just the Beginning

On 25th August 2017 the 30th edition of the International Space University’s (ISU) Space Studies Program (SSP17) was officially concluded at the closing ceremony held at the Cork County Hall, Cork, Ireland.

The 200-person audience including amongst others, Prof. Dr. Jan Woerner, Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA), Tom Cremins, NASA and representative of ISU at the board of trustees, Irish national and local dignitaries, watched the class of 2017 now unified by an intense interdisciplinary, intercultural, and international summer of space enter the hall behind the ISU flag, which was carried by the SSP17 class representatives Audrey Berquand and Victoria Schebek.
Dr. Omar Hatamleh, SSP17 director and master of ceremonies reminded the listeners that since the program was established, more than 4400 alumni have participated in a closing ceremony before going on to make a difference in countries around the world and space. He thanked all local sponsors, Lockheed Martin, SHELL Projects and Technologies and The Aerospace Corporation and all others. And then introduced the impressive line-up of speakers, amongst others:

• Cork County Mayor Cllr. Declan Hurley
• Irish Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development: John Halligan, TD
• Cork County Council Divisional Manager: James Fogarty
• CIT President: Dr. Brendan Murphy
• European Space Agency Director General: Prof. Dr. Jan Woerner
• ISU President: Dr. Walter Peeters
• CIT Local Host Director: Dr. Niall Smith
• SSP17 Class Speaker: Miles Bengston
• SSP18 Representative: Wendy Mensink SSP15

The most awaited speech was the one of the keynote speaker, Prof. Dr. Jan Woerner, ESA DG. In his inspirational talk, Prof. Dr. Woerner mentioned that the role of a space agency is changing, with new technologies and a changing commercialization structure, "we are now entering the 4.0 phase" he said. Prof. Dr. Woerner re-iterated a constant in those changes: "space can bridge earthly crisis".
President Walter Peeters focused on the after SSP, insisting on staying in contact and being part of one big community. The class representative and cum laude Miles Bengston concluded that "all of us are smarter than each of us".
Before getting on with the award of the graduation certificates, Tara Foster SSP17 external relations assistant introduced a video reflecting back on yet another SSP full of memorable moments.


Wendy Mensink SSP15 and representative of the SSP18 host site then addressed her speech to the now SSP17 alumni and said: “you can live your SSP experience all over again by attending SSP18 in the Netherlands”. The 31st annual Space Studies Program SSP18 session will convene in the Netherlands from 25 June – 24 August 2018.

Funmilayo Erinfolami SSP14 and SSP17 teaching associate recommends: "Do not hesitate to reach out to the community". And Mehdi Lali, SSP17 alumnus also feels that the end of an SSP is only the start of new, more exciting challenges: "I refuse to bid farewell because I do not see these moments as the end but only the beginning of a journey that we all have come to start together."

This was the first SSP to be hosted in Ireland, and CIT – the Cork Institute of Technology proved to be yet another excellent host under the leadership of Dr. Niall Smith, Head of Research and Head of Blackrock Castle Observatory and Elisabeth Twomey.

SSP17 Retrospective – a pdf is available here.

More information about the Space Studies Program -


SSP17 Closing2