This week Powering Space attends the IAF Global Conference on Space for Emerging Countries GLEC2022 in Quito, Ecuador. This is the second edition of this space conference that specifically looks at the inclusion of emerging space countries in the global space industry. The first edition was held in Marrakesh, Morocco in 2019.

Two pillars of a national space sector

The first day of the conference evolved around two themes that are relevant for the development of a space sector in a country without a legacy space programme, like in most Latin American countries, where this conference is held. These two themes are like the pillars needed for a space industry to develop.

First there is a national or regional space policy and law, including legislation of space activities from a government point of view. This national space policy sets the conditions for a space industry to develop, setting priorities that are in line with the needs of society and other economic objectives.

The second pillar is a commercial space industry, where entrepreneurs have opportunities to create space companies. These opportunities have increased dramatically over the last years, with space becoming more accessible (read: affordable) every year. Starting a space company is no longer the realm of rich governments or rich individuals. Anyone with a good idea can build space technology and get it into orbit, or benefit from widely available space data to create applications that are relevant to local society.

Bottlenecks for space

One of the key factors that is preventing aspiring space entrepreneurs from picking up these opportunities in emerging countries is a lack of awareness. Without governments promoting the use of space, without education systems teaching young people about the opportunities of space, and without local role models, many opportunities go unused and many people unnecessarily give up their dreams of space.

The GLEC conference is aiming to change this. The conference aims to bring together government, industry and society, to showcase how a space ecosystem (that’s the buzzword of this conference) can be created.

The Importance of Role Models

We mentioned the relevance of role models. Many examples of successful space entrepreneurs come from traditional space countries, mostly the United States, where commercial space started in the late 1990s and early 2000s. More recently, several European countries, most notably Luxembourg and the UK, but also the European Union, started to support (read: finance) the development of a commercial space sector. Plenty of great role models and success stories derive from these countries since.

Until very recently these role models did not exist in most emerging countries. And if they did, they were often stories of ambitious people leaving their country to start a space company abroad. In fact, brain drain was mentioned as an important problem for the development of space in emerging countries.

Space Role Models in Latin America

At GLEC2022 we see that this is now changing. The last panel in the entrepreneurship workshop was a panel of seven young Latin American (and one Swedish) space companies, that are forever changing the perception that “space doesn’t happen here”.

The Latin America New Space Panel at GLEC2022 in Quito, 16 May 2022
The Latin America New Space Panel at GLEC2022 in Quito, 16 May 2022 (photo: author)

A quick introduction of the companies and the role models:

Ideia Space, Brazil

Ideia Space brings space technologies into classrooms in Brazil, by letting school children and students develop a space mission, using all the processes and hardware used in real missions. This way they inspire new generations to innovate and solve the problems of the future through the opportunities offered by space.

Role Model: Victor Baptista, COO

Astralintu Space Technologies, Ecuador

Astralintu offers support to clients that are looking to bring a payload into space, develop a space mission, or want to develop space technology. They also collaborate with Italian new space company D-Orbit to connect South American groundstations to a worldwide net of groundstations.

Role Model: Matias Campos, CEO

Verne Technologies, Guatemala

Verne Technologies is so new that it doesn’t have a website yet. It develops lab technology for microgravity and other space research and development, starting with clinostats. The company was started when one of the co-founders needed an affordable clinostat for her biochemistry research, couldn’t find one and asked a mechatronics student friend to build her one. They soon found that there is a market for these devices, which they are now serving.

Role Model: Katherinne Herrera-Jordan, Co-Founder

Verne is a startup based on friendship, complementary technical skills, and market demand

Dereum Labs, Mexico

Dereum Labs is a space technology company that has its eyes set on the Moon and Mars. In addition to building lunar and martian surface rover platforms, Dereum Labs will help design your mission from idea to launch to mission management, and help you retrieve, process and manage your mission data.

Role Model: Carlos Mariscal, CEO

Space Latam, Argentina

Space Latam develops space entrepreneurs in Latin America. To achieve this they focus on entrepreneurship, bringing science and technology together and building a space community. They organise hackathons, space startup weekends, workshops, talks, support and community events. They are also the Copernicus Relay representative for Argentina, bringing the opportunities of free space data to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Role Model: Jose Medina Bosleman, Founder and Director

Orbital Space Technologies, Costa Rica

Orbital Space Technologies is a brand new cubesat company that is developing the Musa project: a small microgravity platform for biological experiments in orbit.

Role Model: Carlos Rodriguez, COO

Sideralis Foundation, Ecuador

The Sideralis Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 2019, offering education and collaboration for space exploration for new actors in the global space community. Its mission is to contribute to the development, dissemination and preservation of culture and knowledge in the aerospace field, with an emphasis on the Latin-American region.

Role Model: Daniela Mera, VP and Marketing Director

Remos Space Systems, Sweden

Remos is an innovative space company revolutionising satellite ground operations. Our vision is to help space companies manage their assets cost-efficiently, by replacing bulky hardware with future-proof software and integrations. The company is a spin-off from Luleå University of Technology.

Role Model: Dr. Moses Browne Mwakyanjala, Founder and CEO

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