Small Satellites and Sustainable Development Session at SmallSat Conference

When: Monday, August 5, 2019

Time: 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Where: Utah State University Eccles Conference Center 205/207, Logan, UT

In September 2015, more than 150 world leaders met at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which included an ambitious set of goals to improve encourage economic growth, improve social inclusion and advance environmental protection. Spurred by the establishment of the new SDGs, professionals across many sectors, regions, and backgrounds are making efforts to contribute. Space-based technologies and geospatial data sets have already been identified as a type of technology that can contribute significantly to efforts to make progress on the SDGs and to other international development projects.

This event explored how small satellites can be used by a wide variety of actors from national governments to international development organizations to local community networks focused on activities that contribute to the SDGs. Small satellites can be a cost-effective way of collecting information about large, relatively unpopulated or difficult to access areas and have already been integrated successfully in many programs on agriculture, water, land use planning, disaster management, and climate change. Panelists examined implemented and proposed case studies from non-profit, academic, and industry actors and analyze barriers to expanding the use of small satellite technology for humanitarian and development purposes. It will also looked at how the small satellite community can better connect and work with development organizations to improve the effectiveness of projects. 


Stephen Eisele 

Stephen Eisele currently serves as Vice President of Business and Strategy at Virgin Orbit, where he is responsible for commercial sales and leading the strategy and mission management teams. His primary focus is to engage with the civil, commercial and the new space small satellite community as well as lead Virgin Orbit’s growth opportunities through strategic partnerships. 

Prior to joining Virgin Orbit, Stephen served in numerous roles working with start-up space companies, non-profits and established small satellite companies such as Surrey Satellite Technology US, where he served as a Business Development Executive. He also previously served as an advisor to Geeks Without Frontiers, a non-profit seeking to bridge the digital divide with the developing world, where he helped shape the initial strategy and company sustainability goals

Sean Harkins

Sean is an engineer at Development Seed. He builds infrastructure, applications and pipelines to make massive geospatial datasets more accessible for decision-makers. Sean is passionate about open source solutions and helping to produce an ecosystem of tools that are available to everyone. He is strong believer in the power of data and visualizations to help educate people about issues in the larger world.  Currently he is helping build the next generation of remote sensing search technology through his work on the sat-api and STAC specification.
Previously Sean worked with National Geographic and ESRI building systems to make unwieldy geospatial data more intuitive. More recently, he worked with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team as a full stack developer helping build the next generation of the OpenAerialMap that provides timely imagery for disaster relief operations.


Therese Jones 

Therese Jones joined the Satellite Industry Association as its Senior Director of Policy in January 2018. In this role, Ms. Jones supports SIA’s work on government services, regulatory, legislative, defense, export-control and trade issues of critical importance to the Association’s members. Prior to joining SIA, Ms. Jones was an assistant policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, where she focused on space policy. In this role, she supported the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, U.S. Air Force, and Army in assessing new space technologies, increasing the resilience of the national space architecture, and determining commercial acquisition strategies for communications and remote sensing services. Before transitioning into space policy, she worked as an astrophysics researcher focusing on galaxy formation and evolution.  Ms. Jones is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Policy Analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She holds a master’s in astrophysics from the University of California, Berkeley, and bachelor’s degrees in astronomy and astrophysics, physics, German, and international studies from The Pennsylvania State University.

Minoo Rathnasabapathy

Dr. Minoo Rathnasabapathy is a Research Engineer within the Space Enabled Research Group at the MIT Media Lab. In this role, she helps coordinate projects in collaboration with international development organizations, national governments and entrepreneurial companies to apply space technology in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. Previously, Dr. Rathnasabapathy served as the Executive Director of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), a global non-governmental organization which acts in support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, based in Vienna, Austria. Dr. Rathnasabapathy was responsible for leading the operations, business development, strategy, and policy output for SGAC. Dr. Rathnasabapathy earned her Ph.D in Aerospace Engineering from RMIT University, researching the impact dynamics of novel materials used in aerospace structures. Dr. Rathnasabapathy serves as a Vice President on the Bureau of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), and is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Space Technology.


Krystal Wilson (Moderator)

Krystal Wilson is a Director of Space Applications Programs at Secure World Foundation and has over 10 years of international and domestic space, public policy, and management experience. Prior to joining SWF, Ms. Wilson was a consultant at Access Partnership, where she worked with international satellite service providers and other leading technology companies on policy issues related to spectrum management, emergency communications, telecommunications standards, orbital debris, and multilateral processes including representing industry at the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission. She has also served as a project manager at the Tauri Group, a leading aerospace analytics firm, providing research, analysis, strategic planning, and regulatory assessment to government and commercial clients. She led and supported production of NASA’s strategic plans, audits, performance plans, budgets, and annual reports. Her work exposed to the full range of NASA’s Earth observation, human exploration, and aviation programs. In that role, she was also recognized as a key member of a data management team that received the NASA Group Achievement Award.

For more information regarding this event, please contact Director of Space Applications Programs Krystal Wilson

Last updated on September 3, 2019