FAQ

Part 1: Space and Society

Why invest in space under the present economic condition?

Investing in space is investing in the future. More and more applications are becoming dependent from space applications that no country will be able to flourish without having an appropriate space infrastructure and knowledge the coming decades.

What does space bring to the economy?

Macroeconomic studies have shown that the return of space activities on countries and GDP has a multiplier of at least 3. This means that with one euro, dollar … invested in space activities there is a return to economy of at least 3 euro, dollar etc.

In addition to this studies have also shown that such return is higher in case of new space emerging countries, as the indirect effects will be more important.

More information can be found in chapter 2.5. of the NBS SAAP.

What would happen to a country if space activities stopped suddenly?

The global consequences of such a catastrophic event—even for specialists in the field—would be hard to grasp. We can easily imagine huge disruptions in telecommunications traffic and banking operations occurring within minutes. In time chaos would spread to stock markets, television broadcasts, weather forecasting and storm alerts, as well as airline travel. By the second hour the problems would have even spread to activities like education, health care and many other basic services of industry and government.  It will plunge the country in a deep economic depression. 

Are there other than scientific benefits from space activities?

Space has become more than a scientific endeavor and has become a utility. Our daily life is strongly supported by space activities via telecommunication (think about direct-to-home TV and phoning) but also, more and more by Navigation driven Location Based Services (think about navigation systems in phones and cars). Weather forecasts have gained better accuracy now and are allowing to give longer-term predictions, and earth observation satellites are helping in various sectors of the economy like forestry and agriculture.

Are there space driven activities demonstrating such direct return?

We can in many fields show that space derived applications have resulted in distinct economic benefits. A number of the examples cover oil spill detection, osteoporosis and other application areas, and are developed and described in detail in the SAAP.

Where do I find information on space companies in the Baltic area?

In the framework of the NBS FP7 contract a Space directory has been produced covering the majority of companies and institutes involved in space activities in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

This directory is available online as Space Directory 2011.

How are space activities organized in the different Baltic countries?

The structure of space activities and overviews can be found in chapter 3 of the SAAP, available online.

The governance structure of space activities is covered in each section, per country, in the Space Directory 2011.

 

Part 2: Tendering in the space sector

Which approach to get into space tendering?

The space sector works on the basis of vested values and familiarity with space projects. The best way to gain this familiarity is to get involved in space project at subcontractor level, under the lead of an experienced prime contractor with large space system experience. Gaining more experience will evidently lead to increasing responsibilities and reputation in the sector.

Where do I find partners in specific technical fields to form a consortium? 

An excellent source to find partners in Europe, in particular for ESA contracts, is the yearly edition of the European Space Directory, where companies are listed per category of activity. In case a partner is sought in the Baltic area, the NBS produced Joint Technology Program is providing an excellent guideline.

How to become rich in the space sector?

There is no doubt that, to become a successful entrepreneur in the space sector, a longer lead-time is needed than in some other sectors. As reliability is a high requirement, even very novel solutions will only be gradually implemented after they have undergone lengthy testing, if placed onboard a spacecraft.

One area where much more rapid return can be expected is in the area of applications; in particular navigation related ones as the ones based upon Location Based Services (LBS). Being terrestrial they are not subject to the stringent space related system requirements.

How do we select tenders with a chance to be participating or win?

A number of elements will play a role here which will have to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

  • In case of an ESA tender the status of the country in ESA will play a very important role.
  • In all cases a proven history on the basis of past projects could give an important advantage
  • In specific cases know-how for which the area is known (such as laser technology, cyber technology…) will bring a strong asset.

How will prime contractors find us in the Baltic States?

In case of geographical return restrictions there may indeed be a need to be ‘visible’ via web research. A local portal, geographically oriented will be a strong asset and therefore the NordicBaltsat website will remain operational.

In detail, potential partners can consult the website and find companies either via the Space Directory or the JTP, via the competencies matrix.

 

Part 3: Project Management in the space sector

Why are requirements for project management so strict in the space sector?

Failures in the space sector are still getting a high press attraction and need to be avoided, in particular if public financing (tax payers’ money) is involved.

Contrary to, even complex, terrestrial applications there are no ways to repair a satellite after launch. In view of this the fault tolerance and failure probability needs to be much higher than in cases where such repair is possible. The space sector has therefore developed complex risk management procedures with redundancy measures in case a potential risk is identified.

Why does the space sector not adhere to vested standards (like DIN…)

Standards are based upon maintainability and the possibility for repairs. Hence the tolerances in these design requirements were felt to be too high.

A second aspect is that space projects are in general very international and a compatibility between different national standards proved to be unfeasible. Therefore the space sector has gradually developed its own set of standards such as, in Europe, ECSS (European Cooperation for Space Standardization).

Can we propose our own standards in a tender? 

It is strongly disrecommended to do so and the probability that a proposal based upon different standards will be considered non-compliant will be high. In general the Statement of Work (SOW) will clearly define the standards to be used.

As most projects are international and exist of large consortia, it would be impossible for the prime contractor to manage a project under a set of different standards.

Why is a phased approach followed in space project management?

The idea of a phased approach is to allow transition to a next phase only if all issues are solved or clarified in a documented way. The purpose of this procedure is again to make sure that a publicly financed project can b stopped at the end of each phase if the risks are considered too high to continue.

Why is such high emphasis put on TRL?

The space sector uses Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) in order to be sure that components or (sub)systems are space flight qualified (TRL level 8) or space flight proven (TRL level 9) before they are taken onboard of a spacecraft. The difference, and misunderstanding in communication with terrestrial applications is that it is not sufficient to demonstrate that a technology is well mastered (take e.g. laser technology) on earth (TRL level 6) but that also simulators or other tools are used to demonstrate reliability in an hostile environment like space (either thermal, solar, radiation or microgravity wise via e.g. parabolic flights). The rationale here again is that even a well functioning application on earth is no guarantee to work in a space environment with other factors such as radiation damage or material out gassing in vacuum.

Why is such emphasis put on project control and reporting?

In most of the cases the space sector works with fixed price contracts. The idea behind regular reporting and reviews is to make sure that the contractor stays within schedule and cost in order to be able to identify upcoming problems. The space sector uses special techniques to measure this, such as EVM (Earned Value Method) and this is in the interest of both partners. The earlier a problem is identified, the sooner both parties can work together to seek for remedial actions.

Where can information on space project management be found?

As far as standards are concerned the ECSS standards on project management can be found and downloaded from the website www.ecss.nl

As far as a description of the different project management techniques is concerned a project management workbook is available on the NBS website, as a result of the FP7 project

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