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Back in November 2020, the Space Robotics Research Group at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) of the University of Luxembourg launched a challenge in the framework of the ActInSpace hackathon. ActInSpace is a global event created by the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) and the European Space Agency (ESA), bringing together space innovators from around the world with unique challenges hosted by partner organisations. Designed for students but open to everyone, it aims to foster entrepreneurship, encourage start-up creation and promote the use of space technologies and space-acquired data to change citizen’s lives, boost employment, and protect our planet.

The challenge, entitled “Configure & test a DIY lunar rover”, consisted in designing an application that allows to configure rovers to find resources on the Moon. Led by Prof. Miguel Olivares Mendez, Head of the Space Robotics Research Group (SpaceR) and the LunaLab, the contest also asked teams to detail the specifications for a lunar rover to find ice on the Moon. In recognition of their work, the winners received a DIY Kit from SnT to assemble the rover they designed. In addition, they were invited to Luxembourg to build and test the rover in the LunaLab, and received 2000€ as a cash prize from the Luxembourg Space Agency. “We wanted the young people who participate in our challenge to get a sense of the entire development cycle of a lunar rover,” said Prof. Olivares Mendez.

Among the eleven participating teams, the contest was won by 41Space, a multidisciplinary and international team composed of Margot Gabel, Gabriel Garcia, Sumit Goski, Daniela Ignatova, and Julien Stamerra. After the challenge, 41Space member Sumit Goski decided to apply for the Interdisciplinary Space Master. We are glad to announce that he has now been accepted to join the next student cohort, which will start in September 2021. We asked Goski a few questions about his decision to apply for the ISM, and what he expects from the Master.

SnT: How did you decide to apply for the Interdisciplinary Space Master?
Sumit Goski: At the ActInSpace hackathon I met some amazing mentors from the space industry in Luxembourg; one of them was Prof. Olivares Mendez. After the hackathon, I got in touch with him and told him about my interest to pursue studies in Space Engineering, and he introduced me to the ISM. Upon going through the details of the programme it seemed like a perfect fit for me, so I decided to apply.

Did winning the ActInSpace challenge play a role in your decision to apply?
Winning the challenge alone didn’t play a huge role in the decision. It definitely made me more confident, but participating in it and meeting people from the space sector worked as a catalyst. Apart from that, when I saw the details of the ISM program, it seemed to be very hands-on, with courses in space robotics, Cubesats, space resources, also including a lot of business courses. The icing on the cake is the affordability of this programme. It has one of the lowest tuition fees compared to other top universities offering masters in Space Engineering.

What are you looking forward to learn over the two-year programme?
Every course in the program is very interesting to me. Developing space robots (rovers), Cubesats, learning about in-situ resource utilisation (ISRU), and more. I also have a keen interest in the business aspects of the space sector, which the Master’s courses cover as well, something I am very excited about. Overall, I am looking forward to learn how to plan, develop and execute missions in space on both the technical and the business side.

What are your main interests?
I am particularly interested in robotics for ISRU (lunar, asteroid resource mapping and extraction) as well as the use of orbital robots/Cubesats for space debris management and recycling, as it has become a crucial problem to solve. I believe that space junk can also be used as a valuable resource as a raw material for long-term lunar missions.

What are your plans/dreams for your professional future after the Master?
For my professional career, I aim to acquire skills as a Systems Engineer/Mission Designer to carry out missions to the Moon and asteroids, which enable long-term human presence in space. Eventually, I wish to start my own company – once I find the right problem to solve.