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On the 25 – 29 October 2021, the 72nd International Astronautical Congress (IAC) took place in the United Arab Emirates. This year marks the first that the conference has been hosted in an Arab country since its very first edition in 1950. This year’s theme was ‘Inspire, Innovate & Discover for the Benefit of Humankind’, and saw speakers from across the global space industry take to their stages to achieve their aim of strengthening international cooperation.

The Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce organised the country’s Space Mission to Dubai, with SnT taking part. The IAC attracts around 6,000 participants, and shares information around the latest breakthroughs in the space sector, both in academia and industry. Several of SnT’s staff and students travelled to the event this week as attendees, with six among them speaking at the event. These include, Jose Delgado (SpaceR), Kuldeep Barad (SpaceR), Raja Pandi Perumal (ARG), Ahmed Mahfouz (ARG), Davide Menzio (ARG) and Loveneesh Rana (SpaSys).

“The IAC Conference is a very big event, so to be able to showcase your work to so many participants is a great opportunity,” said Loveneesh Rana, a research associate at the Space Systems Engineering (SpaSys) research group at SnT and head of the Concurrent Design Facility (CDF). Of the two talks he gave at the IAC this year, one is about the steps taken to set up the CDF in 2020. Entitled ‘Vision of a Next-Gen Concurrent Design Facility’, Rana will discuss the CDF’s establishment and how he helps other institutions around the world to set one up too. As a dedicated facility for concurrent engineering, such a lab has proven advantages in cost, schedule and accuracy – with organisations such as the European Space Agency (ESA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) adopting the approach.

Rana also presented another paper at the event, including ‘Study into In-Orbit Servicing of the Rosetta Mission’ and ‘Value-Chain Analysis of In-Space Segments of a CisLunar Architecture’. The former is a joint paper alongside Davide Menzio of the Automation and Robotics research group, in addition to two Master’s students, exploring a redesign of the Rosetta mission. The original Rosetta mission was part of ESA’s Horizon 2000 missions, with an aim to specifically target the landing onto a comet. The project was initiated in conjunction with the Luxembourg Space Agency and supported by ESA manager at the time, John Ellwood, who managed the Rosetta mission during its operations. The project demonstrates the value of space resource utilisation and how space resources can influence the design and development of next generation of deep space missions and spacecrafts. The researchers’ paper details a redesign of the Rosetta mission, with the scenario including a refuelling base within space that could restore its power.

During the event last week, SnT’s speakers delivered their technical sessions within symposiums. “We write a paper that details our work, present it at the event and then the paper is published within the proceedings of the conference itself,” Rana explained. “The networking opportunities are substantial and may offer the perfect starting point to find potential partners for future research.”