On June 21, 2019, Oxford University's Centre for Technology and Global Affairs – in collaboration with The Flying Object and the UK Space Agency – held its Future Skies Workshop: Private Industry and Public Policies Shaping the Future of the Space Sector in Oxford.
The panel discussions explored the challenges and opportunities facing the future of the global space sector – including commercialization, technological innovation, regulatory uncertainty under conditions of economic and geopolitical flux. Panellists highlighted the potential for formidable disruption of the industry with the entry of diverse private companies, leading to the development of new technologies and raising new investment opportunities and governance needs. Bas Lansdorp of Mars One delivered a keynote address describing an ambitious vision and plan for a privately funded manned mission to Mars.
A number of important conclusions emerged from the discussions. Speakers made a strong case for clearer and more effective regulation of commercial space activities that can motivate innovation and investment. Another concern involved space sustainability: for example, the need to reduce space debris left by the increasing number of satellites in orbit. Further discussion of sustainability referred to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals published in 2015. Experts agreed that technological developments in the space sector present new opportunities for private industry to monitor and resolve sustainability challenges in near-earth orbit.
Speakers also underlined the intrinsically human aspect of space exploration and investments — the inspirational element that characterized the first attempts at space research and which much also inform ongoing explorations. It is important to consider that the underlying motivations and objectives of space activity are as much political and social as they are scientific, and, consequently, that the arising challenges are eminently human rather than mechanical and commercial in nature.
The event gathered leading thinkers and practitioners from the global space industry, including representatives from The Flying Object, the UK Space Agency, the European Space Agency, NASA, Innovate UK, Satellite Applications Catapult, and Oxford Space Systems. The panels were moderated by three notable global experts: Professors Rafael Ramirez and Marc Ventresca from Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, and Josh Hartman of The Flying Object.
The Future Skies Workshop is the launching event of a leading effort to explore the future of the global space and aviation sectors. It followed from the successful Robotic Skies Workshop on drone policies, which the Centre held in Oxford's Rhodes House in June 2018. The initiative seeks to create a cross-disciplinary research programme and sustainable futures forum for discussion and analysis gathering leaders from industry, government, and academia to explore the complex interplay between international relations, commerce, policy, governance, and technological innovation in the space sector.
The Flying Object
The Flying Object is a global venture fund uniquely positioned to capture investment opportunities in the Technology of Flight, from unmanned aerial vehicles to satellites and space. The Flying Object, managed by investment firm Kluz Ventures, utilizes a network of experts and industry leaders to build growth and returns. Learn more at www.theflyingobject.com and www.kluzventures.com.
The UK Space Agency
The UK Space Agency is responsible for all strategic decisions on the UK civil space programme and provide a clear, single voice for UK space ambitions.