SHSSP21 TA Blog – Week 3

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This week in Europe kicked off with the wonderful Mike Fincke dropping by! The NASA astronaut gave an enthralling story of his travels on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station, as well as conversing with some of the participants in Japanese and Russian. Truly a treat for both participants and staff alike to have had the time to listen and discuss current and past space affairs with Mike.

Throughout the rest of the week the International Space University displayed its prowess across a wide variety of disciplines. On Monday, Alev Sonmez from OHB provided the opportunity to learn more about how satellites are built and designed, taking into account a wide array of structural factors that must be considered. Later that day John Connolly, who works for the Human Landing Systems program for NASA, gave a detailed lecture on systems engineering. How do we evaluate a space missions needs? What requirements are necessary and how do organisations like NASA plan and follow through on them? As a leading figure in the field, John was fantastic in providing concise explanations for what is most certainly a complex topic. We look forward to seeing the Human Landing System program develop further as NASA aims for the Moon and beyond.

Speaking of the Moon, we were fortunate to be joined by Bernard Foing, Sabrina Kerber and their colleagues from the European Space Agency to discuss habitation modules for future lunar missions. While the workshop discussed stakeholder requirements, interdisciplinary functions such as economic and scientific benefits, we’ll leave you with the following: If you had to live on the Moon with four other people for over a month, how would you design your habitat?

The week continued with further interesting lectures including economic rationales for space by Walter Peeters, Aboriginal night skies, space tourism, space debris, and remote sensing. It is always thoroughly educational to learn in the multiple facets that the space industry contributes globally; not just through providing economic benefits, but the technological and scientific breakthroughs that help make the world a better place. On a contrasting whim, the space industry has work to do. Space debris is growing by the month, and it is the responsibility of all those who operate in its space (excuse the pun) to help manage and find ways to reduce pollution in orbit. Sustainability is key on the ground and above it. With that being said, a great deal of satellites contribute positively in their lifespans, as evidenced by Dr. Su-Yin Tan in her “remote sensing” lecture. We learnt that we can observe the Earth in so many ways using satellite technology, applying their abilities to tackle disaster management, health, energy, climate, water, and agriculture. My personal favourite? The Night Skies of Aboriginal Australia. Learning about a different and non-Western view of the heavens was a truly beneficial learning experience.

To cap the end of the week, those in Australia (though they were joined by many online!) took part in the ISU Adelaide Conference, as well as the space masquerade party in a joyful celebration of both the university spirit and space itself. As a TA, things have been busy with preparations for the final week of lectures and workshops, as well as the final week of the program itself as the participants start closing in on their team project reports and presentations. Despite COVID-19, it is nice to see faces from across the globe work together, smile and laugh from distances that would otherwise take hours to fly, weeks to sail. All it takes is a few clicks. We hope that you can join us in the final week with a click of your own to see the fantastic work the SHSSP21 participants have produced. Stay tuned.

Konstantin Chterev – United Kingdom/Bulgaria
ISU SSP18/SHSSP21 Teaching Assistant

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