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Making a Better World through Satellite: Conversations with the 2019 Better Satellite World Award Recipients

In this podcast series, SSPI Director of Development and Innovation Lou Zacharilla interviews the recipients of the 2019 Better Satellite World Awards about their projects, goals and making a better world for us all.

Episode 1: Creating Friends Internationally - A Conversation with UK Space Agency's Chris Lee


Chris Lee oversees the UK Space Agency's International Partnership Programme (IPP). He holds a degree in space science, with his primary concentration on missions supporting astronomy, planetary sciences and earth observation. In 2014, Chris Lee was invited to join the newly formed UK Space Agency as its very first Head of International Space Policy in order to enact a first-time strategy focused on satellite data services as a showcase for the capabilities of the United Kingdom's science and technology. He served as Chair of the Disaster Charter for the UK Space Agency, and in 2018, he was appointed Chief Scientist and given leadership of the organisation's Space Science programmes soon thereafter.

The UK Space Agency’s International Partnership  Programme (IPP) is a five-year, £30M/year ‘space for development’ programme established in 2016, and currently the largest undertaking of its kind in the world. It focuses on utilising the UK space sector’s research and innovation capabilities to deliver sustainable economic and societal benefits to emerging and developing economies around the world. IPP has so far grant-funded 33 projects in 44 countries across Africa, Asia-Pacific and South America, which are run by a large variety of UK and international organisations across industry, academia and non-profit entities. These projects address a variety of critical issues, including reducing deforestation, climate/disaster resilience, remote learning, land-use monitoring, reducing maritime problems, health and renewable energy. The projects generally take between two and five years to be delivered, and range from £500k to £15M in grant value plus match funding. IPP’s portfolio of partners now include 122 space sector organisations and 132 international organisations. Learn more about the UK Space Agency's International Partnership Programme.

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Episode 2: Geeks Saving the Seas - A Conversation with Geeks Without Frontiers' David Hartshorn


David Hartshorn is no stranger to the Better Satellite World. He has led two critical industry campaigns for the preservation of spectrum rights. David led the Global VSAT Forum for two decades, where he helped transform disaster preparedness worldwide and was a recipient of the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award. His primary responsibilities included enabling expanded access to satellite-based solutions through financially sustainable business models, regulatory & policy advocacy, spectrum coordination, training & education, technology validation, and engagement with private and public sector satellite stakeholders in all nations. Eighteen months ago, he went to Washington to accept a position as the CEO of Geeks Without Frontiers.

Geeks Without Frontiers (Geeks) is a platform for global impact. A technology neutral nonprofit, Geeks’ mission is to bring the benefits of broadband connectivity – health, education, poverty reduction, gender equality and the other UN Sustainable Development Goals ( SDG’s) – to the estimated 3.5 billion people who remain unconnected. Sponsored by government and private-sector stakeholders, Geeks has developed a commercially sustainable, satellite-based connectivity model, designed to help address forced labor and human trafficking in the commercial fishing industry. In addition to addressing Human Rights concerns via vessel geo-positioning and providing connectivity to the crew, the model has commercial benefits for vessel owners including the ability to transmit catch reports, monitor weather, conduct safe navigation and send distress signals. The same model can also be used to better address Illegal Unreported and Unregulated fishing, overfishing and seafood fraud. The Geeks model supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), particularly in the areas of innovation, industry, infrastructure, life below water, peace, justice, strong institutions, and partnerships. Learn more about Geeks Without Frontiers.

Episode 3: BIRDS Out of the Nest - A Conversation with BIRDS Project's Abhas Maskey


Abhas Maskey is the Project Manager for the international collaboration BIRDS Satellite Project. He has been singularly responsible for igniting a national space program and enthusiasm for space and satellites in his home country of Nepal. Thanks to his efforts with BIRDS, Nepal has established and funded its first space agency. Abhas joined SSPI in London for the Better Satellite World Awards Dinner in 2019, where he accepted an award on behalf of the BIRDS Project.

The Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite (BIRDS) Project was initiated in 2015 by the Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan with the help of over ten partner institutions. It was envisioned by Dr. Mengu Cho, Professor at Kyutech, who became Principal Investigator for the Project. The BIRDS Project trains graduate students from many developing countries in using innovative and cost-effective systems engineering during the course of a two-year satellite project. The BIRDS project was selected by the Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC) as the winner of the 2017 GEDC Airbus Diversity Award for diversity in engineering. The Project has provided training for students from many countries including: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Egypt, Ghana, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Paraguay, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, and Turkey. One BIRDS project is begun each year, with 2019 marking the fourth generation (BIRDS-4) since the Project’s inception. The yearly projects are carried out by graduate students enrolled at Kyutech for a masters or doctoral degree, and such projects are supervised by four Kyutech faculty members. Read more about the BIRDS Satellite Project.