SSP22 enhances the ambition and innovation of the Portuguese space sector
The class of 2022 of the Space Studies Program (SSP) was welcomed at Taguspark for a nine-week exchange between students and the Portuguese Space ecosystem. The course aims to leverage synergies between the space and non-space sectors, Space-Ocean-Climate interactions and the use of microgravity, among others.
“Take advantage of it because it will happen in the blink of an eye.” With this advice, Hugo André Costa, executive director of the Portuguese Space Agency and alumni of the International Space University (ISU), ended his presentation at the Opening Ceremony of the Space Studies Program (SSP) 2022, which took place this Monday at the Taguspark Auditorium, in Oeiras. Over the next nine weeks, the city will host the course promoted by the ISU, which this year has 107 participants from 37 countries. Nine of them are Portuguese.
Only by the end of August will they be able to prove whether each participant fulfils this premise, but the Portuguese Space Agency director speaks from experience. Mr. Costa sat on those chairs in the 2008 course, and a decade later, the idea of bringing the SSP to Portugal began to take shape. Finally, this Monday, the ambition was achieved through the organisation of the Portuguese Space Agency and Instituto Superior Técnico and with the support of Oeiras Municipality.
Hugo Costa, co-chair of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) summed up the importance of organising the SSP in Portugal: “We are very pleased to welcome participants and experts from all around the world during the next two months in Oeiras, Portugal. Together they will contribute to this moment of change that we are living in the Portuguese space sector.” After two years of pandemic, the arrival of SSP in Portugal brings fresh impetus and inspiration to the science, research and industry of the Portuguese space sector.
As stated by ISU President Pascale Ehrenfreund, SSP22 participants will be “immersed in the Portuguese space ecosystem”, having the opportunity to participate in “exciting team projects that address current trends in the national and international space sector”. They will also have the chance to visit more than a dozen Portuguese companies, research institutes and universities and interact with around 40 national experts. SSP22 will also include fifty master classes, 200 interactive seminars and lectures with renowned international experts.
Oeiras is the ideal scenario for this to happen. Firstly due to the municipality’s characteristic multiculturalism, reflected in the cultural diversity and nationalities present in the SSP student body, as referred by Isaltino Morais, Mayor of Oeiras. Then, by the pulse of innovation that one may feel in that territory: “We offer a set of unique conditions to support entrepreneurs, attract companies and promote the development of business and R&D projects in the scientific and space areas”, pointed out the mayor.
In the same sense, the president of Instituto Superior Técnico, Rogério Colaço, underlined that the campus of Técnico at Taguspark is inserted in a region that stands out for its technological development and business dynamics. Just like the “space agenda”, which Técnico began to boost “30 years ago, with the creation of the Aerospace Engineering course”, which nowadays receives “the best students in the country”.
Diverse is also the educational offer of the SSP22, which focuses on various subjects related to Space without being limited to technology and engineering, and also includes the Humanities, Arts, Medicine, Law and Environment. For this reason, Ricardo Conde, President of the Portuguese Space Agency, highlighted in his speech that this edition of the SSP “will contribute to a deep understanding of how space sciences can help address today’s main societal challenges”, particularly concerning “climate change and the sustainability of our planet’s biodiversity and, ultimately, our very existence”.
“There is hope in knowledge and science to solve what we have been doing to our planet. But we are doing the same in Space. We live in a difficult moment with the issue of space debris. If we don’t take care of Space, we can’t take care of our own home,” he added. Because “Space is more than technology, it is also inspiration” is what is sought and expected from the Space Studies Program class of 2022.