In the early hours of Monday morning of Week 9 of the International Space University’s Space Studies Program SSP22, you could sense a peculiar silence in the residence. While some participants woke up gearing up for what was to be their last week of an exhilarating nine-week experience, others had just managed to leave the study room and go to bed after submitting the final executive summaries of their Team Projects (TPs). Irrespective of their respective levels of sleep, closure and sadness were some feelings common to all participants, as the rollercoaster ride that the SSP22 has been, was now entering its last days.
The atmosphere in the following 36 hours resembled one before a major launch event, as the deadline for the final TP (Team Project) reports approached. The Team Project groups had received substantive feedback from their respective reviewers and external editors over the last days, what ensued in the last hours before the submission deadline was an intense frenzy of editing, re-editing, revising, reviewing, restructuring, and proofreading (in different orders, permutations, and combinations).
As the clock struck six on Tuesday evening, a sense of achievement, fulfilment, and elation had taken over the Institute Superior Tecnico (SSP venue), as all the sleepless nights, team meetings, working sessions, presentations, expert consultations, professional visits that the 92 participants had gone through over the last nine weeks, while overcoming challenges in a display of unparalleled resilience, colossal courage, and team spirit, eventually reflected in the 100+ paged TP report they submitted.
This being no mean feat called for a special celebration, which came in the form of an evening Karaoke party at Boss Burgers in Oeiras!
The TP groups spent the entirety of Wednesday preparing, rehearsing, and fine-tuning their interactive presentations at the Nucleus Taguspark Grande Auditorium, navigating through the challenges of oral presentation, audio/video, IT, logistics, content delivery and preparing for the prospective Q&A. It was intriguing to witness how participants from diverse backgrounds, cultures, regions, and age-groups, engage in discourse towards a common goal, overcome intra-group conflict of opinions, and continue to remain streamlined towards the bigger vision of the Team Project. With all the hard work the participants had put into this endeavour, the final presentations on Thursday turned out to be a grand success, where the participants adeptly delivered their meticulously curated presentations, with a touch of humour coming from short films shot during the TPs, innovative ideas coming through from intensive research, and excellent responses to assessor’s questions resulting from through preparation.
TP Space for Non-Space were the first to go, with their presentation on ‘Down2Earth: Bridging the Gap’, a project looking to identify gaps in the space for non-space sector supply chain and capitalize on the opportunities found insofar as utilization of space data is concerned. This was followed by TP Chinese Space Station who presented about their BIXIA project, a series of international scientific missions with outreach activities at their core, with the end goal of advancing international cooperation on the use of the CSS.
Thereafter, TP Oceans presented on ‘ORCAS – Oceans, Resources and Cliate Applications from Space,’ focussing on maximizing the value of the Atlantic Constellation system, to enhance our understanding of the oceans and the communities they support in the face of changing marine-coastal environments and the global climate change. Finally, TP MicroGravity presented on their project ‘ProKryos – Protein Crystallization for the benefit of people’ oriented towards unleashing the potential of pharmaceutical manufacturing by paving a viable pathway into space and creating innovative methods for mass drug production. With these final presentations coming to an end, the participants had successfully completed their final deliverable for SSP 22. The participants then moved to Praia De Carcavelos, a place they had spent some memorable evenings at during the last nine weeks, for one last beach party, organized by our wonderful Participant Liasion, Melody Korman!
The last day of the program, Friday, was a packed one, with a sumptuous brunch in the morning at Palacio dos Angos. Thereafter, the participants came to Oeiras for one last time to attend the closing ceremony at the Grande Auditorium. The top 10 achievers of the program were honored with prestigious awards containing lunar dust and Mr. Hugo Costa, Board of Directors, Portugal Space, made the much awaited announcement about the winner of the ZERO-G Parabolic flight. Mr. Niels Van Der Pas, adjudged as the top performer in the program, received this distinct honour, along with a boarding pass for the flight scheduled for 16th September.
The Space Studies Program 2022 has never been short of stunning backdrops, mesmerizing views, wonderful locations, and splendid social events. Thus, it was only fitting that the final event of the program, the certificate delivery ceremony, take place at the historic UNESCO World Heritage Site of Torre De Belem in Lisbon.
With that, the 34th edition and the Portugal Chapter of the international, intercultural, and interdisciplinary Space Studies Program ends, leaving the participants and staff with a lifetime of memories, friends, and family in every corner of the world, and high hopes for a reunion in Maldives with a decent possibility of the SmallSot project coming to life!
See you in Brazil! Stay tuned!