Speech by Minister S Iswaran at the Global Space and Technology Convention 2018

Speech by Minister S Iswaran at the Global Space and Technology Convention 2018


Distinguished Guests, 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning.


1.            It is my pleasure to join you this morning at the Global Space and Technology Convention (GSTC) 2018.  

2.            GSTC has been an important forum for space sector players from around the world to exchange ideas and explore partnerships here in Singapore.  This year marks GSTC’s 10th anniversary and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and recognise GSTC for the contribution it has made to the development of Singapore’s space sector over the past decade.  

Developments in Space Technology brings about new opportunities

3.            Estimated at more than $330 billion US dollars worldwide, space is a growing industry that is rich in opportunities.  Developments in space technology are intersecting with the adoption of digital technology and the Internet of Things to transform traditional industries and change our daily lives. 

4.            Small satellites are becoming more popular and prevalent in the space industry.  Over the last six years, the number of micro-satellites and nano-satellites launched globally has increased ten-fold, from just 20 in 2011 to more than 250 in 2017.  Aided by advancements in miniaturisation of electronics and an increase in companies offering space launch services, small satellites promise more comprehensive coverage and flexible usage at a lower cost.  This opens up new possibilities not only for communication and research, but also for commercialisation and businesses.

5.            To capture these opportunities, we are continuing our investment in small satellites.  I am pleased to share that the partnership between the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) and ST Electronics in Earth Observation satellite systems has taken another step forward this year.  Together, they have acquired the next Earth Observation satellite, called DS-SAR, which will carry a Synthetic Aperture Radar imaging payload that is capable of taking images under all weather conditions.  The DS-SAR will support Singapore government agencies’ satellite imagery requirements, such as for maritime security and detection of oil spills.  ST Electronics will also use the satellite to enhance their commercial imagery services.

Deep capabilities and talent for space technology

6.            As the saying goes, "To go far, we must go together."  I am happy to note that space sector agencies and companies have embraced this philosophy by partnering universities to strengthen our capabilities in the sector.  The newly-opened Satellite Technology and Research Centre (STAR), jointly set up by National University of Singapore (NUS) and DSO National Laboratories, will be focusing its first mission on formation flying in satellites, the first of such missions in Asia.  Flying in formation demands high-precision navigation and high-complexity engineering, and we look forward with confidence to Singapore becoming one of the first few nations in the world to accomplish this.  The mission will build deep capabilities which will pave the way for developing advanced satellite applications such as collaborative sensing and in-orbit servicing, strengthening Singapore’s position as an innovation hub for small satellites.

7.            As we build up our enterprise and technological capabilities, we are also nurturing the talent that is needed to support the growth of our space industry.  STAR’s mission will expose our undergraduates and young professionals to integration of satellites and in mission control, giving them career experience and expertise to take on higher value jobs in the global space industry of the future.  I am also pleased that NUS has plans to train a pipeline of about 30 new undergraduates per year in leading new satellite technologies.  I look forward with much anticipation to the future of our space industry that these young professionals will go on to create.

Innovation at home and abroad

8.            Innovation lies at the heart of the space industry.  And, we are witnessing a new generation of space entrepreneurs rising to the challenge, tapping on capabilities developed in our research and education institutions to champion high-tech innovation for the industry.  For example, S-Fifteen Space Systems, a spin-off from the NUS Centre of Quantum Technologies (CQT), is leveraging on quantum cryptography research done at CQT, to explore commercial application of Quantum Key Distribution in secure communication of sensitive data for telecoms and financial industries.

9.            Meanwhile, Gilmour Space Technologies, a small rocket manufacturer, is partnering the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), to tap on its 3D-printing and advanced manufacturing capabilities to develop proprietary hybrid rocket technology, including 3D-printed structures and fuel for small rockets.  The technology has the potential to reduce the cost of small satellite launches, thereby contributing to the growth of our satellite industry.

10.         We hope to see more of such collaborations between startups, universities, research institutes, and industry partners, to support the growth of a vibrant space sector ecosystem in Singapore.

11.         Beyond our borders, Singapore is also working with international partners to accelerate developments in our small satellite capabilities.  2018 has been designated the France-Singapore Year of Innovation.  To foster closer collaboration in innovation, Singapore’s Office of Space Technology & Industry (OSTIn) will partner French space agency CNES to organise the "Innovate Together in Space" seminar to raise awareness of local capabilities and foster closer collaboration in space between French and Singapore companies and research institutions.


12.         I am confident that with our collective effort to build capabilities, nurture talent, and embrace innovation, our companies and our workforce will continue to seize new opportunities in the space industry.  I wish all of you a fruitful time at the 10th GSTC.  Thank you.

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