Space Supply Networks: An Engineering Grand Challenge for the 21st Century
Padma Shri Dr. Pramod Kale, former Director, VSSC, and founder member of ISRO’s Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station, inaugurated the symposium with his enlightening speech.
Santosh Mahale, Director of Thoughtworks e4r welcomed him to the event.
Overview of the sessions
Space-Logistics: Enabler of the Final Frontier 1950–2050 by Dr. Olivier de Weck (MIT, USA)
Dr. Olivier de Weck is the Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is the director of the Engineering Systems Laboratory. Dr. Weck described the supply chain design and analysis for space systems. He urged the users to use the SpaceNet modeling and simulation tool developed by MIT to model space exploration from a logistics perspective. Then he explained the latest project at MIT, the orbital reef. It is one of the commercial space stations under development. He explained that MOXIE, the rover on Mars, was the first of its kind to produce oxygen on Mars.
He concluded with the message that there is a paradigm shift from a mission-centric approach to a network-centric approach in space, and humans will rely on ISRU along with nuclear thermal rockets as propulsion.
Space Supply Requirements for Mars Missions by Mr. R.V. Nadagouda (ISRO, India)
Shri. R.V. Nadagouda is the Deputy Director, Integration and Checkout Area (ICA) at U. R. Rao Satellite Center. He discussed the challenges to a sustainable space supply network: in-orbit servicing, in-space manufacturing, communicating and navigating, space traffic control, and space debris management. He suggested a collaborative mode of working to make space access economical, viable, and faster. His talk provided the necessary foundation for the rest of the symposium.
Affordable and reliable launch vehicles: challenges and opportunities by Dr. C.V.S. Kiran (Skyroot Aerospace, India)
Dr. Kiran, along with Skyroot Aerospace, recently made history by successfully launching India's first private rocket into space. He began his talk by applauding the Chandrayaan 3 mission, which has opened a new window of opportunity in the space sector. He described various initiatives taken by Skyroot Aerospace. They were additive manufacturers of the cryogenic propulsion Dhavan series, liquid propulsion Raman series, solid propellant Kalam series, and rockets from the Vikram series. He said that Skyroot Aerospace is the first private Indian company to launch a rocket into space. He ended his talk by describing the journey and the future plans of Skyroot.
In-situ resource utilization and in-space manufacturing as an enabler for future space activities by Dr. Advenit Makaya (ESA, The Netherlands)
Dr. Advenit Makaya is an advanced manufacturing engineer at the European Space Research and Technology Centre of the ESA. The focus of his talk was on various aspects of manufacturing in space: on-orbit manufacturing, assembly and recycling, performance to launch cost ratio, and sustainability. He discussed various initiatives taken by ESA, like DARPA NOMAD 2021, Clean Space OMAR, China CAST, Out of Earth Manufacturing, Catapult Satellite Applications, and PERIOD. Later, he discussed recycling in space, in-orbit polymer and composite manufacturing, metal manufacturing, and finally commercial manufacturing platforms. He concluded his talk by discussing in-situ manufacturing for surface exploration and various possibilities of space resource utilization.
Moon to Mars with Spaceship France by Mr. Gregory Navarro (CNES, France)
Graduated from Polytech's Orléans in Embedded Computer Systems Engineering in 2002, Mr. Navarro first worked in the development of embedded software for aeronautical, military, and automotive systems. His session began with the main aspects of CNES, the French Space Agency, and the global exploration roadmap of the Spaceship FR network until 2023. One of the attractions in his talk were the capstones like autonomous habitat (LISE), robotic assistants, ISRU labs, and infirmaries with food management systems. He concluded his talk by discussing the proof of concept and the synergies and cooperation required by various agencies and commercial organizations.
AI Robotics for Sustainable Space Exploration by Dr. Yang Gao (King’s College, England)
Dr. Gao is a Professor of Robotics and heads the Centre for Robotics Research at King's College London. She began her session by explaining the robotic missions so far and how the robots will be the enablers of future space exploration. She shared the experiments from STAR LAB, where in-orbit robotic operation with non-cooperative targets, visual data processing for rovers, and planetary surface data analytics were carried out. One of the interesting demonstrations was autonomous surface mobility and robotic sub-surface locomotion. Both were inspired by the biological locomotion on Earth. Dr. Gao concluded the talk by describing how AI robotics enables sustainable space operations with an example of “strong AI” used in multi-rover scenarios.