Speech by Minister S Iswaran at The Global Space And Technology Convention 2016 at Sheraton Towers Hotel

Speech by Minister S Iswaran at The Global Space And Technology Convention 2016 at Sheraton Towers Hotel

Mr Jonathan Hung, President, Singapore Space and Technology Association,

Mr Jean-Yves Le Gall, President, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning.



1.            It is my pleasure to join you today at the 8th Global Space and Technology Convention (GSTC) 2016.  I am heartened to see a strong turnout from the space community, which attests to the shared passion for this exciting industry.

2.            As a small and open economy, Singapore needs to constantly look ahead, stay nimble and prepare for an uncertain future.  The recently established Committee on the Future Economy is our latest effort to envision new possibilities and strategies that that can strengthen and sustain Singapore’s competitiveness.  Our effort to develop the space industry is an example of Singapore’s continuing endeavour to chart new frontiers and carve out competitive niches for our economy.   


The launch of Singapore-made satellites in December 2015 is a significant milestone for Singapore

3.            At this same convention three years ago, I spoke about Singapore’s commitment to build a sustainable and thriving space industry.  I outlined how the Office of Space Technology & Industry (OSTIn) would help drive this effort, and had committed funds to support our local universities, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), in their respective micro-satellite missions for climate monitoring and hyperspectral imaging.  At that same GSTC, ST Electronics announced the development of its first commercial earth observation satellite, TeLEOS-1.

4.            Today at GSTC 2016, I am pleased and proud to note the successful development and launch of the six Singapore-made satellites into space in December last year.  My heartiest congratulations to the teams of researchers and engineers, and everyone who made this launch possible.

5.            The launch of these satellites is a significant milestone for Singapore.  It represents an important first step by local companies seeking to enter the global space industry.  Through TeLEOS-1, ST Electronics has proven its capabilities to develop as well as commercialise small satellite technologies and applications.  The TeLEOS-1 project has also enabled local SMEs such as LOOP Electronics, SQ Engineering and Wizlogic to build up engineering and production expertise for space-qualified components.  

6.            NTU’s VELOX-II was another satellite that was successfully launched.  This satellite was developed to test a proprietary Inter-satellite Data Relay System (IDRS).  Developed by local SME Addvalue Innovation Pte Ltd, IDRS is an innovative system that aims to address a constraint faced by Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite operators, where communication with a LEO satellite is only available when it is within sight of an earth station.  The VELOX-II mission has allowed Addvalue to demonstrate the technical feasibility of its IDRS to provide high capacity and 24/7 on-demand, two-way data services for LEO satellite missions.

7.            This major milestone is an affirmation of the ability and determination of both NTU and NUS.  The successful launch attests to the strengths of our universities, not just in the areas of upstream R&D, but also in complex systems design, development and integration.  This feat is all the more impressive when we consider that our universities, notwithstanding their limited experience in the space industry, only took two and a half years to develop and build the small satellites. 


Singapore’s space industry continues to grow, with global companies undertaking a range of activities from here, including collaborations with our public R&D community

8.            Singapore remains an attractive launch pad for companies to innovate and develop new services, and to seize the growing number of satellite opportunities in Asia.  In 2015, Harris CapRock, a leading provider of mission-critical satellite communication solutions to remote environments, expanded its Asia Pacific headquarters in Singapore.  As part of the expansion, it will undertake higher value-added activities such as satellite capacity planning and operations engineering to better support its growth in the region.  Spacetime Technology, with support from the GNSS[1] and LBS[2] Association of China (GLAC), also established a Centre of Excellence in Singapore last year.  This Centre of Excellence is the first-of-its-kind, set up to develop and commercialise location-based services and technologies from Singapore to the Asia Pacific market.  

9.            Singapore has also seen increasing interest from companies to collaborate with our public sector R&D community to co-develop satellite technologies.  For example, 21st Century Aerospace Technology (21AT), one of China’s largest private Earth Observation companies, recently established a joint lab with the A*STAR Institute of Infocomm Research (I2R) to focus on imagery analytics, as a complement to its integrated services hub in Singapore.  In addition, all nine research proposals awarded under the second OSTIn open thematic grant call involved collaborations with industry partners, such as Thales Alenia Space and ST Electronics.

10.         Fostering public-private collaborations remains a key focus for Singapore.  It has fostered the vibrant space industry we have today with more than 150 researchers working on satellites, and over 30 companies creating high value jobs for more than 1,000 professionals.  Such collaborations will also help Singapore to build deep industry-relevant capabilities and develop a pipeline of talent to support our growing space industry.  

11.         One such talent is Ms Janna Soh.  After graduating from NTU with a degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Janna took on a role as a hardware engineer, working on circuitry design and design verification in local SME Addvalue.  This is the firm that developed the Inter-satellite Data Relay System (IDRS) which, as I mentioned earlier, was launched with NTU’s VELOX-II satellite into space.  As we continue to grow the space industry, there will be more opportunities for young engineers like Janna to apply their skills in addressing the complex engineering challenges that the industry presents.  


Singapore will continue to build international linkages

12.         OSTIn has also sought to build and strengthen partnerships with international space agencies and government bodies.  In May last year, the French National Space Agency, CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales), and OSTIn signed a formal agreement outlining their joint intent to collaborate on areas such as Telemetry Tracking and Control (TT&C) components for small satellites, and Earth Observation applications.  This has paved the way for local industry and public R&D players to work with their French counterparts, with the aim of co-developing solutions to actual challenges encountered in space.

13.         Singapore will continue to forge such connections to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, to develop capabilities and networks, as well as to support the growth of the global space industry.


Singapore will build on our base of capabilities, and continue to deepen our know-how in the development and commercialisation of satellite technologies and services.

14.         As with all things related to space, this journey is a long-term endeavour and we are just at the beginning.  Lessons from the development and in-orbit operations of our six satellites will help guide and inform our next phase of mission planning and technology development.  This will involve building upon our base of capabilities in electronics, infocomm technology and systems engineering, as well as deepening our know-how in the development and commercialisation of satellite technologies and services.


15.         Let me conclude.  The knowledge-intensive space industry is an exciting niche opportunity for Singapore.  It has the potential to create valuable opportunities for our businesses and interesting technology-based careers for Singaporeans.  We have seen some promising early successes and look forward to working closely with the industry to build strong public-private collaborations and a thriving space industry in Singapore.  I wish you all fruitful discussions at this conference.  

16.         Thank you.

[1] Global Navigation Satellite System.

[2] Location Based Service.

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