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MSRO concludes second Space for Island Nation's conference; announces mission to launch an astronaut from a small island nation

MSRO held its send Space for Island Nations Conference (SINC) last month and announced special missions and partnerships with relevant parties.

Ameera Osmanagic
15 May 2024, MVT 10:26
MSRO, in its second edition of SINC, announced plans to launch a citizen astronaut from a small island nation -- Photo: MSRO
Ameera Osmanagic
15 May 2024, MVT 10:26

The Maldives Space Research Organization (MSRO) has concluded the second edition of their annual Space for Island Nations Conference (SINC) held at Crossroads Maldives from 23-25th April 2024, announcing plans to launch a citizen astronaut and a scientific payload from a small island nation.

The announcement was made during the conference which was first conceptualised by MSRO in 2023, which saw both local and international attendees participate in panels, keynotes and networking receptions around this year's theme 'Space for Space, Space for Oceans and Space for Climate'.

This new initiative is a collaboration between MSRO, the Space Exploration and Research Agency (SERA), their partners, Jaguar Space LLC and Karman Foundation.

Commenting on the announcement, President of MSRO Madin Maseeh said that with the Space Exploration Research Agency (SERA) and their partners, MSRO hopes to give the opportunity for a Maldivian, or a Small Island Developing State representative to go to space by the end of this year.

SINC 2024 also hosted keynotes from dignitaries of the Maldivian government who delivered keynotes including Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Resources Minister Ahmed Shiyam, as well as Special Envoy for Climate Change to the President’s Office Ali Shareef.

“I see the opportunity for us to harness the power of space science to better understand, monitor, and mitigate the challenges facing our oceans and the environment today. I see the potential of unlocking innovative solutions that will benefit not only our nation but also contribute to global efforts in sustainable development," said Minister Shiyam in his speech.

Deputy Minister Hassaan Mohamed of the Ministry of Climate Change, Environment and Energy also attended, moderating a panel discussion.

Minister Shiyam’s keynote highlighted the pressing issues of climate change, rising sea levels, and coral bleaching impacting the Maldives and expressed optimism in leveraging modern technology and innovative approaches to tackle these challenges.

The conference, for the first time, also hosted two closed-door sessions focused on island nations with the representation of over 15 nations within the category. This was in coordination with MSRO, UNIDIR and SWF on an invitation only basis to discuss space security and sustainability. The second session focused on innovative approaches to disaster risk reduction for small island nations and was set up as a round table discussion. This session was hosted in coordination with the Pacific Disaster Center.

MSRO also took the opportunity to celebrate notable milestones during the main event. This includes its membership at the International Astronomical Union and also its partnership with Axelspace, a Japanese satellite manufacturer and service provider as well as Sony Group Corporation to unlock regular high resolution satellite images coupled with IoT sensor technology.

Following from last year’s emphasis on youth engagement and empowerment, this year’s SINC also hosted the 10th Asia-Pacific Space Generation Workshop which took place in parallel to the conference and brought together working groups where 21 international attendees worked along side 20 local youth on the topics of sustainability through space, space exploration and diversity in space.

On day two of SINC, these workgroups presented their findings to the audience.

During the conference, MSRO also highlighted their multilateral partnerships through the presence of speakers from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as well as Chang Guang Satellite Technology who attended with the support of the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) and thanked all sponsors for their support.

In addition, the conference included representatives from The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), the Secure World Foundation (SWF), the President’s Office, the Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Resources, the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Energy, Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), the Pacific Community (SPC),Sony, and the Group on Earth Observations (GEO).

MSRO is an NGO founded in the Maldives in 2022, with a vision to help Maldives become a spacefaring nation making significant contributions to the exploration and use of space. Its mission is to create a space sector in the Maldives that can help the country become more climate resilient, protect its maritime domain, diversify the economy and empower locals using science and education of space.

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