APRSAF-24 held in Bengaluru

The 24th session of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF-24) was organised at Bengaluru, India during November 14 -17, 2017.  APRSAF-24 was co-organised by the Department of Space (DOS) / Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) with the theme “Space Technology for Enhanced Governance and Development”.  Sri A S Kiran Kumar, Chairman, ISRO/ Secretary, DOS and Ms. Mami Oyama, Deputy Director General, MEXT were the General Co-Chair of this APRSAF-24 session.

APRSAF annual meetings are open fora for those who have interest in cooperation in the field of space activities in the Asia-Pacific region and are organised under four working groups namely ‘Space Applications’, ‘Space Technology’, ‘Space Environment Utilisation’ and ‘Space Education’. The recent achievements and future plans of each country and region were deliberated in these four working groups. The working group meetings were held during November 14-15, 2017.  The summaries of the working group deliberations were presented in the plenary sessions during November 16-17, 2017 including special sessions on specific themes, namely, ‘Sustainable Development Goals’, ‘Space Policy’ and ‘Space Exploration’. There was also an evening session on ‘Space for Future Society’ on November 15, 2017.   Associated events of the Working Groups, namely ‘Space Applications For Environment (SAFE) Workshop’, ‘Kibo ABC Workshop’ and ‘Workshop on Space Policy’ were organised on November 13, 2017.

APRSAF annual meetings are preceded by Water Rocket Events and Poster Contest for school students, as a means of generating interests in space and nurturing their creativity and innovative thoughts.  APRSAF-24 Water Rocket event was organised during November 11-12, 2017 with Water Rocket making workshop followed by launch competition. 56 students in the age group of 12-16 years from 11 Asia Pacific countries including India along with Colombia in South America actively participated in this event. An educator session was organised, in parallel, in which about 40 teachers and educators from Asia-Pacific countries exchanged views on teaching methods. In Water Rocket event, teams from Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Malaysia have secured the First, Second and Third places, respectively.

APRSAF-24 Poster Contest was organised with the theme "United Through Space”. Thirty-six posters were submitted by students in the age group of 8-11 years from 12 Asia Pacific countries including India.  There were five different awards in the Poster Contest event and the ISRO award was won by Indonesian student.

An exhibition was also organised to provide an opportunity for the Indian and foreign Industries to showcase their technological capabilities. Nine Indian Industries and nine Foreign Industries have set-up their stalls in the exhibition.

APRSAF-24 has been different from earlier annual meetings in many ways. It had highest number of Heads of Space Agencies from Asia Pacific region and South Asian countries. Heads of Space Agency session to deliberate on space agencies’ contribution towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was organised for the first time with participation of heads of 9 space agencies in Asia Pacific region - India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. Two Special sessions, one each on ‘Space Policy’ and ‘Space Exploration’ were organised for the first time during the main plenary day. As a host Nation, India has organised a special session on ‘Space Technology for enhanced Governance and Development’, wherein officials from user Ministries of Central and State Government have shared their experience on the utility of space technology inputs for planning, monitoring and decision making.

A ‘Space Leaders Round-Table’ was organised in the concluding session on November 17, 2017 to discuss on the joint statement.

Following are the major recommendations of the Working Groups:

 -National space agencies in Asia Pacific region to develop small/cube satellites collaboratively, as the data from these satellites could provide input to solve various common issues of Asia Pacific region;

  - To further promote educational activities, using space technology as a tool that will be beneficial for the human resource development of the next generation;

  - Encourage and accelerate Kibo (in ISS) utilization through feasibility studies in each country;

  - To further promote space application including rice crop monitoring, global rainfall monitoring, fire hotspot, haze monitoring and disaster management, etc. 

Brief of various sessions/ events of APRSAF-24 are given below:

  -Space agency heads from nine agencies presented on current activities and future possibilities/expected contributions of space technology in resolving their National priority issues toward achieving the    SDGs.

  -Space policy experts from seven governments in the region have shared their views on how their country is evolving their space policy in response to their national requirements.

  -Representatives from India, Japan, Korea, Russia and UAE presented their perspectives on space exploration including the utilization of International Space Station, development of Deep Space Gateways and reaching out to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

  -Space agency representatives from 13 countries in Asia Pacific region have presented achievements of their national space programme and background on national policies in the ‘’Country Report” session.

  -In ‘Space for Future Society’ session, the speakers have shared their ideas on how aerospace technology, such as solar power, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), and remote sensing can contribute to future society.

  -In the Space Cooperation in Asia Pacific session, representatives of 7 international organizations have shared their views on the current trends and way forward in enhancing space cooperation.

  -Space Policy workshop was jointly organized by the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Public Policy, Japan and the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), India, to provide an overview of space policy perspectives in the Asia-Pacific region and to explore further possibilities for international cooperation in the region.

  -SAFE (Space Applications For Environment) is to contribute to the solution to various environmental problems with space technology and many prototyping which is being carried out by Asia Pacific countries has been reviewed.

  -Kibo-ABC (Asian Beneficial Collaboration through Kibo Utilisation) workshop was organized to encourage countries in the Asia-Pacific region to use the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM). Kibo is human space facility that provides unique research capabilities in the International Space Station (ISS).

  -A Press meet was also organised on Nov 17, 2017 where all the Heads of Space Agencies participated and in