Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Space Applications and International Development Event

About a month and a half ago, I posted about my "Space Applications and International Development" white paper that I written and had published at work.

So last week, on Wednesday, we held an event on Capitol Hill to go along with the release of the paper. It was a lot of work to put together - especially because it was the first time I had organized an event like this. Luckily, I wasn't doing it on my own, so I had the help and experience of my co-workers.

I spoke in the beginning of the event, giving an overview of the topic - explaining how space applications are used for international development - supporting applications like telemedicine, tele-education, disaster early warning (using remote sensing imagery), land use planning, and many others.

We then had two panels, with three speakers each. I was really happy with all of the speakers - they were interesting and engaging and all seemed very passionate about their work.

The first panel talked about how communications satellites and remote sensing satellites are used to help developing countries. The two representatives from the NASA SERVIR program talked about how they were called on to provide imagery, data, and other assistance for the mudslides in El Salvador last week. It was amazing to see real examples of how these space-based products are being used in real-time to react to natural disasters and save lives.

The second panel talked about how developing nations can develop their own space programs, and what the benefits are of doing so. The idea is that even by just investing in space expertise and possibly some hardware able to analyze remote sensing data, nations can develop products that are particularly suited to their own national priorities. The president of the Brazilian Space Agency spoke in this panel, describing some of the activities of the Brazilian program. Our other speakers, from the State Department and from the European Space Policy Institute, talked about the importance of engaging the international community and developing national space policy and legislation, to ensure new space nations fully benefit from resources are responsible international actors in space.

If you're interested, you can go to www.spacefoundation.org/research to see the full agenda of the event as well as any of the presentations.

Also, here is an article that was put together about the event.

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