(L-R) Astronauts Reinhold Ewald, Dorin Prunariu, Pedro Duque and presenter Ana Baltazar; Credit: Otilia Dragan/Chronicle.lu

On Friday 5 May and Saturday 6 May 2023, the third edition of the Summer Space Festival is taking place at the Abbaye de Neumünster in Luxembourg-Grund.

After starting in Lille in 2021 and taking place in Brussels 2022, the Summer Space Festival has arrived in Luxembourg. The festival aims to inspire synergies and collaboration and to show opportunities for young professionals and students interested in the space field.

5 May, the festival’s first day is one of workshops and activities, dedicated to schools, students and young professionals exploring career options related to space. The day commenced with a breakfast buffet followed by a short presentation of the Summer Space Festival, its organisers and its aims. Next came addresses from Mathias Link, Director of the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA), a video recording message from Luxembourg’s Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, and a panel of three astronauts, discussing space ethics.

Mathias Link spoke about Luxembourg’s industry explaining that, when the steel industry collapsed in the 1950s, the Grand Duchy compensated by specialising in the finance industry. However, in the early 2000s, the country looked into diversifying its areas of activity into, for instance, biotechnology, logistics and also space. In 2005, Luxembourg joined the European Space Agency (ESA) and in 2016, the government launched the Luxembourg Space Agency, dedicated to space resources.

Mathias Link informed the audience that there are 1,500 people working in the space sector in Luxembourg, with 800 companies involved. The employment possibilities in this area have doubled in the past four to five years, he stressed. He added that Luxembourg is recognised as one of the leaders in the space community circles and that “we need young people to consider space as an opportunity.” He reminded the audience that there are two masters related to space law at the University of Luxembourg, and that there would even be a possibility to send people on a mission in space.

Minister Fayot reminded in his video address that “we cannot ignore the ethical aspects of space development”. He stressed the need to ensure a responsible use of the resources found in space and the need for ethical considerations but added that he believes in the potential environmental and social benefits to be gained from advancements in the space sector.

The panel of astronauts featured Dorin Prunariu, Pedro Duque and Reinhold Ewald who discussed ethics considerations, touching upon their experiences in space and how often people who are sent to space and see the world from above feel more like space citizens afterwards. They described this feeling as a protective and grateful view of planet Earth driving them afterwards. They also discussed the inevitability of privatisation and the importance of space rights in this context and they spoke of the dangers of space tourism and the necessary considerations to be taken into account for it.

Also on this first day, Chronicle.lu spoke to Laetitia Cesari, a doctoral researcher at the University of Luxembourg, focusing on the law of space activities and cybersecurity. She was invited to speak at the festival about responsibility and ethics concerning space law. Asked about importance of the Summer Space Festival, she said it is an “opportunity to meet directly with astronauts and people working in the space field, but  also […] to be in touch with institutions, including the Luxembourg Space Agency […] as well as the universities, companies from Europe and not only Luxembourg.”

According to the organisers, there were over 200 people registered on Friday (the room was full). As for Saturday, the festival will be open to everyone with conferences, activities, informative booths and stands, food trucks and even jedi battles. No registration is required. The programme and more details are available at the following link: https://summerspacefestival.eu/.