“Results of the United Nations Workshop will influence the development of space technologies all over the world”

18.12.2017, 16:11

At the beginning of November on the base of Samara University the United Nations Workshop on Human Capacity-Building in Space Science and Technology took place. One of its participants and organisers, the Head of Inter-University Department of Space Research Igor Belokonov About told about the intermediate results of this historic without exaggeration event. Letters-suggestions of the development of collaboration still come to the email of the department and International Office after the Workshop from all over the world.
“A row of countries is interested in creation of joint research and education nanosatellites”
- Igor Vitalievich, holding of such a large-scale and unique event as the UN Workshop which occurred in Russia for the second time in its whole history can be regarded from different positions: formation of international collaborations in the sphere of education and research, creation of projects for practical cosmonautics. And what is its main result?
- The global result of the Workshop is in the fact that on our ground were formulated suggestions and recommendations which will help to begin the space exploration and use of it for social and economic development by the countries which do not have the necessary competences yet. The results of the Workshop and formulated suggestions were already discussed in November in Dubai on the high level space of the UN/UAE. After the discussion and confirmation at the meeting of Scientific and Technical Sub-Committee of the UN on Space in February of the next year they will be shaped in the form of an official document and used for formation of the notice of the 4th global UN Conference on Peaceful Space Exploration UNISPACE+50 planned to be held in Vienna, June 2018.
- What are the exact countries in question?
- The results of the Workshop held at Samara University will influence the development of space technologies in many countries of the world, but first of all the developing ones, such as Arab and African countries, countries of the south-east Asia.
- In your opinion, what perspectives have been opened for Samara University?
- Before us opened huge perspectives of the university promotion at the international level. This means that the flow of international students in our university will grow. Both to the bachelor, master programmes and short term courses; to trainings, summer schools.
The participants of the Workshop got acquainted with the laboratory base of Samara University; they were greatly impressed by our abilities in the sphere of development, creation and management of nanosatellites. Very strong impression was produced by the Centre for testing and probation of CubeSats supplied with a unique complex of trial equipment. A row of our guests have already expressed their desire to use the services of these structures. A number of countries expressed their interest in joint projects including the creation of CubeSats, for example, Sri Lanka.
Moreover, in four days of the Workshop we held a row of negotiations. We were approached by the representatives of Philippines, Bangladesh, Ghana, Uganda, and Nigeria with the suggestions to hold short term courses there under the aegis of the UN. We presented them with three variants of such trainings: a week one – introduction into nano-satellite technologies, two week course – basis of the nano-satellite technologies and the advanced one designed for month training on perspective nanosatellite technologies. We have already been asked to send the conditions of realization and maintenance of such programmes.
But it is early to draw the final results of the Workshop: the consequences of such a bug event are great.
“The ball’s in our court, i.e. reciprocal actions are awaited from the university”
-  In the course of the Workshop the topic of collaboration broadening with Sri Lanka appeared. Tell us about it?
- Yes, our contacts with Sri Lanka got a new impulse for development. We and the Director of Arthur C Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies agreed that in 2018 to our new English programme "Advanced space technology and experiments in space" the institute will send 10 people and five more people for the programme on satellite radio-navigation. Sri Lanka has a recruitment agency as well which gathers and directs students to different countries including Russia for studies. There are first agreements that this agency promises to drastically increase the flow of youths from this country to Samara. Sri Lanka invites our employees at the beginning of the next year to hold a promo tour about Samara University in the Republic.
- What projects is the university developing with Nigeria?
- The UN set a row of reference regional centres for promotion of space knowledge. They are distributed all over the world, for example, in Brazil and Mexico, Jordan, India and China. Two centres are acting in Africa: one is for the French speaking countries, the other one is for the English speaking ones. Thus 26 English speaking countries of the Central Africa collaborate with the UN Centre on promotion of space knowledge situated in Nigeria. With the head of this centre we signed an agreement on collaboration in 2016 already after the report of Rector Evgeniy Shakhmatov at the UN Sub-Committee on space. Nigeria waits for the suggestions from us on trainings and short-term courses. And to this work I call to join all the departments of the Institute of Space Rocket Engineering.  
- What other countries showed interest at Samara University? With whom and about what were the negotiations conducted?
- To the Workshop came a big group of the representatives of Kazakhstan universities that have educational programmes in the sphere of space technologies, first of all Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. The developers of the first Kazakh nano-satellite (it was created jointly with the Japanese – remark by Polet) came to Samara as well. Kazakhstan was interested in collaboration with Russia and suggests developing a joint degree programme. The ball’s in our court, i.e. reciprocal actions are awaited from the university.
We are waiting for a big flow of students from Azerbaijan to our traditional educational programmes. By the way, in Azerbaijan as in many other developing countries there is a nanosatellite, but here one should understand that it was made not on their territory, but ordered in other countries. Usually “far from the space” countries look for such projects partners in Japan, the USA or Europe. We in the course of the UN Workshop demonstrated the potential of Russian cosmonautics; many guests were amased by the vast exhibition of Samara University and RSC “Progress” where various types of satellites were presented. I think that now Samara will be present in the list of the countries on development of mini-satellites and nano-satellites.
“Demand for our knowledge is great”
- Can it be said about the joint international research on the base of the Workshop results?
- It can be said about the joint projects with Brazil Space Agency. We held a row of preliminary negotiations. This is an advanced country in the sphere of development and use of space technologies.
The representatives of different developed countries were present at the Workshop as well, and we learnt about a number of projects in which it would be interesting to participate. For example, American Prof. Mike Graf from Colorado University is now working in the space centre of UAE in Dubai. He told about the mission of Mars flight of a small automatic space vehicle in which we could also find our place.
It would be interesting to hear about the projects of Kyushu University – we have signed a memorandum on mutual understanding with them. To some extent Kyushu University is our rival: they can also make satellites for developing countries, collaborate with Sri Lanka in the launch questions. Nanosatellites are a separate market, where there is its own rivalry. For example, Japan via the UN suggests launching nanosatellites for free from Kibo module to ISS. American company “Nanoracs” has its conditions. And our spacemen launch satellites from ISS during rather rare space walks. The problem with the launch of science and education nanosatellites exists and is very topical for Russia.
- What conclusions have you made from the sessions of the Workshop?
- The UN department on space now knows about the specialized branches. Having held the Workshop successfully we have proved ourselves, having proved our high potential one more time and convinced that there is a great demand for our competences. Such events as the UN Workshop raise the status of the city, the leading enterprise of the country RSC “Progress” and our university. The more events like this we have, the faster we ascend the ladder of the indices of programme competitiveness enhancement 5-100.