28 February 2024 News

SSSIF consolidates position as Europe's leading NewSpace event

‘Small is beautiful’ could be three words that sum up aptly the ‘Small Satellites & Services International Forum’ (SSSIF) held in Malaga’s winter sunshine in mid-February. Spain has identified and carved out a successful niche for its SSSIF which this year was held for the fifth time and attracted a record 420 attendees and delegates from all corners of the world.

Experts from the space sector in more than 21 countries met over three days to discuss different current issues in this field. The focus was on business and lunar and cislunar missions, the main theme of this year's SSSIF. More than 50 high-level technical papers were also presented.

SSSIF attendees included 72 panelists from key governmental space agencies, including NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Spanish Space Agency (AEE). The event was also supported by leaders from private business, including Spanish companies GMV, Indra and Tecnobit Grupo Oesía, and Italian companies Telespazio and Airbus.

Miguel Ángel Vázquez and Vicente Díaz, Directors and Co-Founders of DHV Technology, were the promoters and organisers of SSSIF this year said afterwards there were “very happy” with the success of this year's event and the impact that SSSIF is having internationally.

“Our objective when we conceived this event was to create a congress with the presence of companies and organisations from various countries that would be indispensable for all those involved in the small satellite sector, and we believe that we have now achieved this,” added Mr Díaz.

The theme for this year was ‘Lunar and Cislunar Missions and Business’, which gave wide scope for different companies in the sector to explain the evolution of projects related to lunar missions.

Among them was Ezequiel Sanchez, CEO of PLD Space, a Spanish company that has become a major player in the national and European aerospace industry, explained the company's trajectory and reviewed key moments from the launch of the Miura 1 in October 2023 up to its preparation for the launch of the Miura 5, which he said "will be environmentally friendly".

Mars and its future exploration was also a key theme with Andrés Martínez, Executive Director of Special Programs in NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems Division, outlining the challenges that the space agency is facing in reaching Mars. He admitted that we are “not close to setting foot on this planet" but that it remained one of NASAs and its partners main objectives.

His views were echoed by Carlos García-Galán, an engineer from Malaga and manager of European Service Module for the Orion programme at NASA's Glenn Research Center, who spoke about how the agency believes that it will be viable to travel to Mars starting in 2039 but until then the Moon will be used as a “test laboratory to facilitate the arrival of human beings on the red planet”.

Diana de Miguel, from Airbus, one of the SSSIF's prime sponsors, echoed the sentiments of the conference, saying: “Smallsats will make the process of lunar exploration more efficient when it comes to communications and navigation, and prospecting for resources.”

Lunar and cis-lunar missions and the associated economy have grown exponentially over the last few years. Between 2013 and 2022, some 30 percent of exploration missions were targeted on the lunar environment, with a total budget of $58.8 billion. Between 2023 and 2032, it is expected that will increase to over 47 percent with a budget of approximately $142.4 billion.

During the forum, the SSSIF integrated two conference halls together with an exhibition area, where 28 international companies and institutions highly specialised in the space field showcased their technological advances and technical skills.

SSSIF co-founder Miguel Ángel Vázquez announced that the 6th edition of SSSIF will be held on 18-20 February 2025 and will have as its main theme ‘Industrialisation and Sustainability in Space’. “We are very happy to be able to hold this forum, which brings together so many important personalities and companies in the small satellite sector, in Malaga for another year,” he added.

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