Touchdown: Space Tech Expo lands in Europe with cutting-edge industry solutions

Space Tech Expo Europe launched at Germany’s Messe Bremen last month to record numbers.

Over the course of three days, 3,354 industry figures from across the supply chain flocked to the exhibition hall, mingling with 1,721 unique companies and 333 exhibiting companies. Pre-registrations were up 28% from 2015 and attendees arrived from almost 50 countries, underlining the global nature of the event. Free to attend, the show is dedicated to innovation and developments in the European space industry. Attendees engage in immersive sessions, explore an interactive exhibition hall featuring cutting-edge technologies and network with leaders from the region’s space industry, who share their perspectives on the future of space technology.

European Space Agency (ESA) Director-General Johann-Dietrich Wörner opened the conversation on day one, probing into the hot topic of cooperation over competition and the idea of a united space in Europe. “Right now we have the International Space Station (ISS)… The next big step should be to work globally together,” he said. “Global cooperation is more than something for industry, it’s something for society on our tiny globe.” Building on this, he touched on the importance of inspiring and motivating young people, and spoke of ESA’s work in Europe encouraging young people to engage with space activities.

On the expo show floor, ArianeGroup kicked off the Product Showcase by unveiling the Ariane 6 – a next-generation launch vehicle scheduled to achieve its first test flight in 2020. Matthias Becker, one of the company’s system engineers, commented that there was “a lot of interest in the Ariane 6 and a crowded booth – a lot of fun!”

Day two saw PTScientists take their Audi lunar quattro Moon rover for a spin around the hall. Crowds gathered to learn about the intricacies of designing and building off-world vehicles and to see this complex rover that will one day explore the surface of the Moon.

The diverse content of Space Tech Expo Europe attracts people from all spheres of the industry, many of whom are drawn to the forum sessions: Industry Forum and Technology Forum. The forums run alongside the main exhibition, boasting a three-day programme that delves into core industry developments and covers the most compelling elements from space technology sub-sectors. Day one’s standout session from the Technology Forum was Katherine Pegg’s presentation on ‘utilising augmented reality for the space industry’. Pegg explored how augmented reality could provide solutions for domains involving procedure guidance, such as manufacturing, design and maintenance, as well as how these benefits could be applied to other sectors. The Technology Forum also considered the use of electronics and components for space applications. On day two, Testia GmbH’s Holger Speckmann delivered an enthralling session on how testing practices are changing in order to keep pace with the increased use of additive manufacturing.

The second morning of the Industry Forum was dedicated to addressing the design and manufacture of satellites. Leading-name speakers from OHB, Society of Satellite Professionals International, Airbus Defence & Space and SES addressed the growing demand to extend connectivity around the world and the resulting pressure on satellite designers and manufacturers. On the final day, the Industry Forum offered a rare opportunity for attendees to put their questions to some of the sector’s most successful companies in the ‘How to do business with…’ panel.

A central goal of Space Tech Expo Europe is to bring companies together, and the popular B2B Matchmaking service provided a platform for attendees to meet with individuals and businesses on a one-to-one basis. The service was organised in cooperation with Enterprise Europe Network Bremen and offered pre-scheduled meetings, as well as the opportunity to upload an online profile detailing business requirements and invitations to meet. ABB Canada’s Jacques Giroux was impressed with the service, saying, “It’s been very good, as expected. I had my meetings scheduled using the booking system, which was efficient and I’ve been very pleased with the day.” Melissa Molseed from ICP Search agreed, commenting, “It’s been amazing! It’s great to come back for the second year and see how many more people are exhibiting and the excitement. Everyone I’ve spoken to says the B2B meetings really set this event apart.”

Attendees also made connections during the complimentary drinks networking reception, hosted by City of Space and OHB. Exhibitors and attendees alike enjoyed the opportunity to socialise with industry peers in a relaxed setting.

As three days of exciting industry activity came to an end, many reflected on the value and quality of Space Tech Expo Europe. President and CEO of Planewave Instruments, Richard Hedrick, observed, “This event is great because there are so many different companies and technologies here, it’s a great place for us to be seen and to meet different people. There are so many different ways to partner, you don’t even realise all of them until you’re here.”

The next Space Tech Expo Europe is scheduled for 2019, but if you can’t wait until then, check out Space Tech Expo USA. Taking place on May 22-24, 2018, in Pasadena, California, the event is America’s engineering and manufacturing touchpoint for space technology and your gateway to the American market.