World Space Risk Forum 2016 end on 'high' note

The World Space Risk Forum (WSRF 2016) concluded yesterday in Dubai with wide-ranging discussions related to innovation within the space sector and risk management with an emphasis on learning from the past, sharing ideas and looking to the future.

The conference also coincided with Dubai becoming the ninth nation on the planet with a mission to explore Mars as per the final design endorsed by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

As the leading global forum for space risks, WSRF brought together under one roof nearly 400 satellite operators, manufacturers, launch providers, space agencies, risk managers, insurance brokers, underwriters, lawyers, and capital providers in an atmosphere that was creative and cordial and lent itself to in-depth discussion and networking.

The space insurance sector has played a major role in the growth of the space industry by facilitating investment capital. As the industry has evolved, the nature of risks has also changed. High on the agenda at this global space industry meet, now in its 4th edition, was the need to understand and mitigate these evolving risks, share thoughts on promoting business development and exploration in Space. This year the WSRF was further strengthened by strategic partnerships with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and Euroconsult, the leading global consulting firm specializing in space markets.

“With space changing so rapidly, it is essential that risk is handled the right way. And not just from an insurance perspective but technical, financial and regulatory elements are equally important. Evaluation is the key and points of view from all along the value chain have to be considered to synthesize a vision that will promote successful programs for the future,” said WSRF 2016 Chairman Chris Kunstadter.

One of the highlights of this year’s forum was the special awards that were presented to the industry over the course of the three days. John Celli, President of SSL was recognized for Outstanding Service to the Industry, whilst Eutelsat received the award for Industry Innovation.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) was honoured for Industry Inspiration, a timely accolade on a day when the final design of the Hope Probe, the region’s first-of-its-kind mission to explore Mars, has just been approved.

“What’s impressive is that there is such a strong focus on getting young people to get involved in the sector. This seems to be unique to the UAE and the MBRSC in particular has found a way to ignite interest in the sector in a way that is great for the future of the satellite industry,” added Kunstadter.

Day one of the three-day conference set the stage. Keynote speeches included the 2016 WSRF Chairman’s opening speech on mitigating risks and Dr. Michael Menhart, Munich Re Chief Economist’s keynote address on the global economic outlook.

Day two and three were equally in-depth with keynote speeches from John Celli, President of SSL on the forces that drive today’s commercial satellite market, Dr. Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX VP Mission Assurance on the future of re-using rockets and Stéphane Israël, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace on leveraging a culture of experience, reliability and gradual innovation at Arianespace.

Day 2 also included the CEO Future Panel, moderated by Carissa Christensen, managing partner at the Tauri group. Along with John Celli and Stéphane Israël, Mark Spiwak, President of Boeing Satellite Systems International Inc. and Khaled Balkheyour CEO of Arabsat shared their thoughts on the future of the space industry. The panel discussed the challenges they foresee and their responses, in addition to the innovations they plan to employ to stay competitive, all making for an interactive and engaging session.

In keeping with its innovative approach, the WSRF launched a new dynamic short talk lecture series this year. With a duration of less than 15 minutes and on topics ranging from “The Mean is Meaningless” to “Is the Moon still there if we close our eyes?” Space Powwows!, hosted by Swiss Re Corporate Solutions were incredibly well-received by the delegates.

The next edition of the conference will take place in Dubai in 2018. Looking to the future Kunstadter concluded, “The world will be a different place by 2018. Space activity will be well beyond where it is now and it would be safe to say that many of our current dreams will be a reality by then. It’s exciting to anticipate that by then we will be discussing things such as space mining and new rockets as realities.”

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