Starting on the 20th of July 2020 the International Space University is hosting the inaugural Interactive Space Program (ISP20). 85 crew members from 28 countries will embark on an expedition to investigate the ways in which Space can be used to prepare for, prevent, mitigate, and monitor pandemics on Earth. Moreover, the ISP20 will exercise the kind of remote working, which the future explorers of space will experience, physically separated, living in different time zones, differentiated by specialisations, and yet united by a passion for space. The expedition begins soon, but this story has already started.
The ISP20’s formation began in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic. In recognition of this situation, the ISU embarked on the formation of a program to address this crisis through Inter-disciplinary, International, and Intercultural collaboration. 84 ISU team members from 12 countries spent 4 months developing the expedition, starting from a mere concept and materialising quickly through careful coordination. This was a new challenge for everyone.
As with all challenges, the key to success is preparation. Under the direction of the Expedition Captain, Mr Göktuğ Karacalioglu, great efforts are being made across all departments. ISU’s Library is providing access to online resources for the expedition, Logistics is coordinating the distribution of masses of information and materials, Communications is promoting the program across multiple platforms, Admissions is processing applications (filling the course completely), and a mentorship campaign is being coordinated. Intense effort was made by the IT Team to establish an online platform for the expedition, diligently incorporating the needs of the program. Over the last months the team has collaborated with specialists in remote-learning, conducted training sessions to develop the skills to engage people via online platforms (see image right), and exercised these skills through iterative practice. The ISP20 Mission Operations Centre also has its very own CapCom, responsible for communicating with the Crew.
From the Crew’s perspective there have also been preparatory activities. The crew has received training in Group Dynamics, learning how to work effectively as a team remotely, as well as training in the software platform for the expedition. Prior to the beginning of the expedition, several participants even collaborated to design the ISP20 expedition patch (image at the top), which symbolises the expedition’s focus on health, and its three simulated habitats, Earth orbit, Moon, and Mars.
As we move now to the final stages of preparation, the ISU’s team is ready to welcome all crew members to the ISP20 expedition. In addition, ISU alumni have registered to provide mentorship to the crew throughout the expedition, a string of subject matter experts are preparing seminars and workshops to run with the crew, and the ISU Officers are preparing to assist the crew with their Team Mission project. Despite the challenge of creating and preparing this program remotely, from laptops in living rooms on 4 continents (as Officer Camilo demonstrates in the image right), the ISU team is very excited about commencing this inaugural expedition.
The expedition itself is set to be an intense undertaking in Inter-disciplinary, International, and Intercultural collaboration. The Crew will have the opportunity to develop a holistic understanding of space, to improve their abilities in remote teamworking, and to become part of the ISU network.