Online workshop: “From science to business: How to contribute and take advantage of Space Rider payloads

The Portuguese Space Agency is organizing on 3 February an online workshop dedicated to promoting the use of the future European Space Agency (ESA) orbital vehicle, Space Rider, by the Portuguese industrial and scientific ecosystem.

The Portuguese Space Agency is organizing the workshop “From Science to Business – How to Contribute and Profit from Space Rider Payloads “ , with the aim of showing Portuguese companies and scientific organizations how they can take advantage of the future ESA orbital vehicle. The event will take place on February 3rd, at 10:30 am (WET). Participation is free, but registration is mandatory.

In November 2020, the Portuguese Space Agency, Portugal Space gathered a set of international experts to discuss the potential of the microgravity environment in the fields of pharmaceutical and medical Research and Development . The event, which featured speakers from Virgin Galactic, MIT Portugal, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Space Pharma, among others, intended to raise awareness of Space’s research and development capabilities, but also to highlight the importance of the Space Rider , ESA’s future reusable orbital vehicle. With the inaugural flight scheduled for 2023, the Space Rider will be used in a wide range of applications, including scientific experiments in microgravity.

With the workshop “ From Science to Business – How to Contribute and Profit from Space Rider Payloads” , Portugal Space intends to explore the ways in which Portuguese entities can contribute and take advantage of payloads from Space Rider. This event takes place at a time when ESA is preparing to intensify contacts with potential customers, sharing technical details of the accommodation of payloads on the Space Rider’s inaugural flight.

Portugal is one of ten Member States that subscribed to the Space Rider program during Space19 +, the ESA ministerial council that took place in November 2019. The European Space Agency defined the island of Santa Maria, in the Azores, as a potential landing site Space Rider, also foreseeing the creation of post-landing processing facilities for the reusable vehicle , which will provide non-space companies with a new alternative to enter the space field.

“For Portuguese companies, Space Rider will be an excellent solution to have an easier and more accessible entry to Space,” says Joan Alabart, responsible for Industrial Relations and Project at Portugal Space, stressing that the Agency wants to “encourage national entities, both industrial and research, to participate in the scientific and technological exploitation of Space Rider payloads ” .

Together with ESA experts, who will address the technical and operational aspects of the Space Rider payloads , as well as assess the status of the project and the process for selecting payloads, Portugal Space intends to attract national entities not only for the use of payloads, but also for the possibility of getting involved in the design of a Space Rider laboratory. “The ideal would be for a national entity to set the standards for future commercial experiences that would be sold and used by third parties on board the vehicle” , says Manuel Wilhelm, responsible for Industrial Relations and Project at Portugal Space, stressing the possibility of a national entity “Become a sub-aggregator on future flights”.

For the Portuguese Space Agency, the Space Rider project is not only an opportunity for industry and the national scientific community to assume a leadership position, but also the possibility of developing the space ecosystem in the Azores. “Considering the national commitment to this project, it would be extraordinary if we could have at least one Portuguese payload on the inaugural Space Rider flight, but especially if we could guarantee a sustainable participation of national entities in future payloads / flights”, says Manuel Wilhelm.

ESA will be represented at the workshop by Fabio Caramelli, project director at VEGA Production and Future Missions, who will provide details on the selection process of the payloads , namely the specific conditions for access, the price / cost policy and the chronology, among others . The workshop will also address issues related to the fields of application and the status of the project .

Conducting microgravity research and development for medical and pharmaceutical products are examples of services that can be performed using the Space Rider, but the vehicle can potentially be used for in-orbit demonstration and validation of a variety of technologies and applications, such as robotics for exploration, instrumentation for Earth observation, surveillance for monitoring terrestrial disasters, and satellite surveillance.

With a size similar to that of two minivans, the Space Rider has a re-entry module that offers a volume of 1200 liters for up to 800 kg of payloads based on a platform designed with cutting-edge technology capable of providing energy, thermal protection, control and data processing and telemetry.

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