by first-time SpaceUp participant Lars Hoving
The second Dutch edition of SpaceUp Netherlands (3 October 2015) kicked off with a pre-event the day before, at Delft University of Technology in Delft. Starting with drinks and a nice pizza dinner the participants of the unconference were welcomed. Followed by a unique and very interesting documentary in the evening about the MARS2013 Analog Expedition in Morocco, by the Austrian Space Forum (ÖWF). The evening resulted in energetic discussions and inspiration for topics to be discussed during the unconference the next day. For a lucky few it was even possible to join a behind-the-scenes tour at the facilities of ESTEC in that afternoon. Another nice addition was that the SpaceUp was followed up by the open day of ESA-ESTEC on the Sunday.
It is Saturday, ten o’clock in the morning, and all the participants are assembling at the Space Expo venue, in front of the ESA-ESTEC facility in Noordwijk. Within half an hour everyone is being registered, thanks to a superb organisation. Equipped with a nicely filled welcome goody bag and coffee the participants are ready to embark on their unconference day. For me personally this was my first SpaceUp event and after a small introduction by the organisation on the concept of the unconference I was ready.
The session grid was quickly filling up with interesting talks and discussions which were divided over three different locations inside Space Expo. With the Ariane hall being the largest room providing for large scaled and healthy heated discussions like the question “should we limit the access to space for commercial companies with the ever expanding space debris problem in mind”. The smaller Astronauts hall provided the floor for many other interesting talks and small workshops, like interactive astrodynamics and the Kerbal Space Program game. A nice experience is that the unconference allows you to chose what the content is and that you decide on what you want to listen to next.
A third arranged location was the “On the Moon” floor in the Space Expo hall. It allowed for small discussions, but also for one-on-one talks with the participants that just gave a talk on a topic that you are very interested in. However, also a small break from the talks could be enjoyed with the nice scenery of the exposition in the background as if you were actually on the moon. Finally, the SpaceUp event was closed off by a very delicious dinner and drinks to continue the fruitful discussions on the nearby beach with a beautiful sunset in the background.
In a nutshell, the SpaceUpNL 2015 was a great experience and many other unconferences will follow for me. Even though I did not give a talk myself I had great discussions with many of the participants inside and outside the session grid. For my next SpaceUp I will definitely sign up for a talk and hope that I can inspire many other space enthusiasts like I was inspired after that day.
Lars Hoving is a Dutch master student in Aerospace Engineering, with a specialization in astrodynamics. Lars’ thesis, which is about to be finished, is on low-thrust multiple gravity-assist trajectory design. Besides aerospace engineering, Lars also holds a bachelor degree in Information and Communication Technology in which he did his thesis on test software for radio telescopes at the Dutch radio astronomy institute ASTRON. In 2015 Lars attended the Space Studies Program of the International Space University in Athens, Ohio, USA.