Asturias (Spain) wants to attract NewSpace companies

Asturias is a region in North Spain with a long history in coal mining and the steel industry, and severely hit by the lasts economic crisis. However, Asturians are people that doesn’t give up easily, they are innovative and they have a deep understanding of technologies and the industry (thanks to the University of Oviedo and its amazing engineering, mining and sciences departments, as well as the international companies that choose Asturias to establish their research centers). Thus, Asturias offers a great environment for technology innovation, an amazing quality of life and well, Asturian food).

Asturias is currently looking to the future and exploring new opportunities. These are mostly linked to telecommunications and digitization, and take advantage of the capacities already developed in the region (5G and cybersecurity laboratories, public and open narrow band for IoT, among others). The Asturias’ public university (University of Oviedo) has also shown interest in innovation on space resources and technologies by creating the Institute of Space Sciences and Technologies and a new postgraduate program on Space Sciences and Technologies. This seems an interesting starting point to make Asturias an attractive location to develop NewSpace companies.

In this context, the Asturias’ Department of Science, Innovation and Universities is launching a Preliminary Market Consultation to create (1) a test bench for rocket engines and (2) a test bench for nanosatellites.

Test bench for rocket engines: Asturias is considering the creation of a mobile test bench for small rocket engines ( thrusts between 1 to 20 kg ), no larger than a ship container, with associated power supply and monitoring systems, and preferred using materials that promote circularity.

Test bench for nanosatellites: The challenge is to propose a mobile test bench for nanosatellites, again no larger than a ship contained and that includes: guidance control, solar and magnetic field simulators, vacuum environment, and thrust gauges.

All the information can be found here, unfortunately it is only in Spanish and they only accept proposals in Spanish. However, let me know if you have any question, maybe I can help.

Credits: La Nueva Espana Newspaper

European Researches’ Night (24/09/2021)

Last 24th of September Europe celebrated the European Researches’ Night. I was invited to participate with a video about my experience as a woman in science. The project called En Profundidad (In Deep) was organised by Women in Mining and Industry Spain in collaboration with the Ilustre Colegio de Geólogos (ICOG Spanish National Geologists Association) and the ENGIE Project (Empowering girls to become the geoscientists of tomorrow).

I would like to share with you my video because I believe in the importance of showing women doing science but also in the necessity of speaking out about the challenges and drawbacks that thousands of women face in research everyday.

It is possible to watch the video in Spanish with English subtitles in YouTube.

The Sci-IA Podcast

I have never participated in a podcast before so when Vivek Dahiya invited me to participate in his Sci-IA Podcast I couldn’t say no. It was a very enjoyable experience. Viverk and I talked about the Moon, space exploration, the future, and even about philosophy!

Here is the youtube video if you want to see the complete interview (apologies about the dark illumination at the end, the light bulbs in my office decided stop working).

You also can listen this and many other episodes of The Sci-IA Podcast at Buzzsprout, Apple Podcast and Spotify Podcast.

Egypt’s Next Frontier

Last Saturday I had the honour to be invited to participate as a keynote speaker and panelist in Space Generation (SG) Egypt’s first event ever: “Egypt’s Next Frontier“. I was very lucky to be surrounded by knowledgeable panelists from whom I learned a lot, and it was wonderfully moderated by Mina Takla, SG Egypt Program Lead and National Contact for Moon Village Association (MVA) Egypt. I must say that I enjoyed it greatly and I am sure that this is only the first of many SG -MVA events to come in Egypt. Egypt’s Next Frontier also gave me the perfect opportunity to learn more about the Egyptian Space Agency (EgSA) and their plans for this decade.

Egypt has already developed and launched many satellites and cubesats successfully. They also have a program called Egyptian University Cubesat (EUC) helping students to do their thesis on cubesat subsystems, raising awareness on space topics and establishing space laboratories in universities and schools. In the recent years EgSA is looking beyond launching satellites to promote research (emphasizing space medicine), increase diversity in the space sector, become an important contributor to international space policy, and develop space missions (including to the Moon!). They are also upgrading their capacity building and industrial facilities to support the growth of the commercial space industry. And not only that, by 2030 there are plans to send the first Egyptian astronaut to space.

EgSA has signed a MOU with the MVA-Egypt to organize public awareness and space outreach campaigns on social media, webinars with experts recognized worldwide, and develop smallsat mission proposals for EgSA to consider. This organization has over 40 volunteer Egyptian students and young professionals publishing high-quality articles in important conferences such as the International Astronautical Congress.

Last Saturday, I met some of the current and future Egyptian space professionals and I experienced their enthusiasm and commitment for space. It was a pleasure to hear about all the work they are doing and I can’t wait to hear more from Egypt’s space achievements.

EgSA: egsa.gov.eg

MVA: https://moonvillageassociation.org/

SGAC- Egypt: https://spacegeneration.org/regions/middle-east/egypt

Also, MVA and SGAC Egypt can be found on Facebook.

The value of planetary scientists in NewSpace

When I started my PhD I was expecting to develop a career in academia. To be honest, it didn’t seem to be many other options out there for a Doctor in Lunar Geology. As my PhD years were going by, I met more and more business people and engineers involved in what is called NewSpace, specifically lunar resource exploration companies. Most of those entrepreneurs, CEOs, and business developers I’ve met were people with admirable visions but it shocked me how many of them lacked of basic understanding of the lunar environment and its resources to make their businesses minimally realistic.

As a geologist, I was trained to work with the private industry. There is no oil, mining, civil engineering or construction company that does not have geologists playing fundamental roles. Why should resource exploration companies be different?

It’s not a secret that I was hired by ispace not many months after handing my PhD final thesis. I was, to my knowledge, the first lunar geologist hired full-time by one of these companies. Without any precedent, we had to came up with what should be my responsibilities and my everyday duties. Needless to say that for me it was very important to prove that there was a place for planetary geologists in NewSpace.

I doubt that there is anybody who knows more about the lunar environment, resources and surface than a lunar scientist. A good understanding of these three aspects of the Moon are critical for the success of your mission. A planetary scientist could contribute to the definition of the objectives, the payload and the landing areas of your mission, maximizing your exploration results and minimizing the risks.

Planetary researchers have, as any other professional group, their own jargon and expectations that could be similar or completely opposite to those of your company. Having a scientist will help you to translate that latest research article into plain language. A question that I’m always asked at the office when a new lunar article comes up is “Could you explain us this article and the implications that this new discovery could have for us?”

I also encountered many researchers with questions and concerns in certain aspects of NewSpace companies. This distrust is mainly caused by not considering scientists in the company’s communication strategy. Having a purely business pitch in a scientific space resources conference could be counterproductive if the speaker doesn’t have basic knowledge of the science and doesn’t take into account the characteristics of the audience.

Adding the perspective of a planetary scientist will also help you to identify needs that your company could solve and turn it into a profitable business area. Being a scientist requires skills such as observation, problem identification, creativity, proposal writing, and many others that are in demand when you want to develop an innovative business.

There are many ways how a planetary scientist could add value to a NewSpace company and there are many of them looking to get into the space resource industry. If you are interested in meeting some, I’d love to introduce you.

comment 0

Welcome!

Thank you for visiting my website!

I’m Abigail Calzada and I’m very excited to finally share with you my new digital home.

I’ve been working in lunar science and lunar resources for more than 10 years, the last 4 in NewSpace company ispace, and after all these years I kept thinking what else I could do to promote the sustainable exploration and use of our Moon. During the past months on my maternity leave, I had the time to reflect on what type of project I would really enjoy and will contribute to that mission. And that’s how this website was born.

Here, you will find informative content centered on the science, technology and business that drives lunar exploration. But also, I will keep you informed about my attendance and participation in conferences, interviews and other events. I’m looking forward to share with you what I’ve been learning during all these years of commitment to space exploration. I hope you enjoy them and join me in this adventure.

Before I end this post, I want to give a big thank you” to a group of women (and a man) that have been guiding me so I can shape all the ideas that were on my mind into this project.

We are going to the Moon, this time to stay. We are truly living inspiring times!