Space exploration: open for business
Prizes worth more than €500 000 were awarded to winners with disruptive ideas at the Space Exploration Masters competition at the NewSpace Europe conference on 16 November in Luxembourg.
Disruptive ideas can connect space and non-space areas with new approaches, solutions and services.
From space-enabled crops to high-tech propulsion systems, Europe’s first Space Exploration Masters competition based around space exploration activities, welcomed new players to boost business and innovation in the space industry.
The Space Exploration Masters competition was organised by ESA, AZO and partners.
Nearly 150 proposals were submitted from individuals to large corporations, from researchers to bold entrepreneurs. There was a great focus in matching at least one of the UN sustainable development goals.
“Together we can shape our future in space with ground-breaking innovation and make life on Earth even better,” says Thorsten Rudolph, Managing Director at AZO.
The overall winner was Space Sustain with an initiative that could improve terrestrial crops in extreme or special conditions.
“These plants will not only be better suited to the space environment, but hopefully also be more resilient to harsh climate conditions that are becoming more common on Earth,” commented ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer.
One of the proposals uses the ICE-Cubes service that offers room to run experiments and conduct research in weightlessness inside ESA’s Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station.
High-tech solar panels will rely on energy production that is completely emission-free. An innovative propulsion system could lead to the first commercial electric engines using solid metal as propellant. Additive manufacturing and ‘stretchable’ electronics are also among the winning proposals.
About 30 experts with different backgrounds from agencies, institutions, companies and science centres reviewed the ideas.
Space Exploration Masters competition winners:
Technology Transfer Success category
ESA Space Solutions Prize: 3D Reconstruction and Visualisation of Geological Formations
New Business Innovation category
Overall winner + Astrosat & Huntsville Prize: Plant Germination during Spaceflight to Test for the Adaptability of Crops in long-term Space Missions
ESA Prize jointly with Space Applications Services: Fenix – Small Propulsion Systems for Small Satellites
LuxIMPULSE Award for the Luxembourg Prize: Simple and Scalable Electric Propulsion for Small Satellites and Beyond
SpaceStarters Award for the Luxembourg Prize: TerraBox & LunaBox – Customer Service in the Solar System
Sustainable Exploration Prize: Golden Fleece – Metallic Coatings for Intelligent Solar Sails from In-Situ Resources