Ladies and gentlemen,
1. Good morning to our participants here and those attending virtually from around the world. I would like to thank SSTL for your efforts in keeping the community connected, amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. The Global Space and Technology Convention (GSTC) has been a useful platform for the community to keep abreast of the developments in the rapidly evolving space sector, and to discuss on how space technology and satellite communications will shape our lives. This is the 14th year this convention is held, and I am pleased to be here with you today, to learn more about advances in space technology.
Global space sector is making impressive strides
3. Since the last convention in June last year, we have seen many successful space exploration activities, such as the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in December, which was the world’s largest and most powerful space observatory ever built. China has also sent two crewed missions, including their first female Chinese taikonaut, to their Tiangong (天宫) space station. Investment into the sector also set a new record in 2021 with about US$15 billion invested in space companies. I am pleased to see more exciting global developments in store for 2022.
Space sector in Singapore continues to grow
4. Here in Singapore, the space sector continues to stay vibrant, with more than 50 companies employing more than 1,800 professionals. These companies are critical enablers for other sectors – from aviation to maritime. They also play a part in our everyday lives, such as when we use global positioning systems (GPS) for ride-hailing and parcel delivery.
5. Central to this ecosystem are Singapore’s strong capabilities in research and technology, as well as our position as a trusted business hub for capital, talent, and intellectual property. Allow me to share three examples of our local achievements in space.
a. Last GSTC, we shared that our local SME, Addvalue, which has developed an Inter-satellite Data Relay System (IDRS) to enable real-time tasking of satellites, had begun commercial operations of their IDRS. Today, one year on, I am proud to share that Addvalue now has 7 commercial customers for their IDRS system, with plans to deploy more than 240 satellites in total across their constellations. This is a significant milestone achieved, as Addvalue works towards the ambition to provide a reliable platform to support real-time satellite operations.
b. After the recent volcano eruption in Tonga, our researchers at the Earth Observatory of Singapore at NTU made use of satellite radar imagery to develop a damage map of the region, to aid in identifying the damage to buildings, infrastructure and vegetation.
c. Our DSO National Laboratories, ST Engineering and Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) are also developing and acquiring a number of Synthetic Aperture Radar and Electro-optic satellites for government and commercial applications, such as oil spill detection and maritime security. These will be due for launch in the next 2 years.
6. These developments demonstrate Singapore’s burgeoning space innovation ecosystem, and our ability to support local space players to develop and launch new products.
Singapore’s space strategy
7. Even as we make good progress, we must maintain this momentum, and I am pleased to share our three-pronged strategy to encourage further growth in the local space sector.
8. First, our Office for Space Technology and Industry (or OSTIn), together with the National Research Foundation (or NRF), will invest in R&D to develop our space capabilities.
9. We are investing S$150 million in our flagship Space Technology Development Programme (STDP). The Programme seeks to develop space capabilities to support national priority domains, such as aviation, maritime and sustainability; and in emerging and potentially disruptive technologies.
a. An example includes the Very Low Earth Orbit (or VLEO) satellite technologies. OSTIn is supporting an effort by a consortium involving NTU, NUS, and our local companies, ST Engineering, Aliena and Lighthaus, to develop VLEO satellite solutions with orbits closer to earth, that would enable satellites to deliver differentiated capabilities. VLEO satellites will also rapidly deorbit at the end of their missions, making them more sustainable by reducing orbital debris.
10. OSTIn has also launched an open grant call in 2021 on two topics. First, disruptive technologies for small satellites. Second, satellite data exploitation and Artificial Intelligence (AI). More than 50 proposals were received, which is very encouraging. The first tranche of projects is in the process of being assessed and will be awarded soon.
11. OSTIn will launch another open grant call in the second half of this year in emerging areas like in-space manufacturing and on-orbit servicing and assembly.
a. Given the multidisciplinary nature of space technology, I encourage local researchers working in adjacent domains such as robotics, AI, materials science and even urban solutions to explore if your technologies can be applied to space applications and vice versa.
12. Second, to support the growth of the local ecosystem, the Government will work closely with Singapore companies to build deep technical capabilities, support the translation of research and technologies into commercially viable solutions, and nurture internationally competitive companies.
a. For example, OSTIn is supporting SpeQtral, a spinoff from NUS’ Centre of Quantum Technologies, to launch a satellite to demonstrate its Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) solution. If successful, this would enable quantum-safe transmission of secure information through existing communication channels, and provide a future-proof solution to safeguard critical communications.
13. We are also constantly looking for likeminded partners internationally, so we can learn from each other and grow together.
a. Just last November, OSTIn signed a Statement of Strategic Intent with Amazon Web Services (AWS), with the aim to accelerate space innovation in Singapore. This allows Singapore-based space businesses to tap on the diverse resources offered by AWS in the area of cloud computing for space applications.
14. Third, we are forging partnerships with other space-faring nations, and building a talent pipeline for the space sector.
a. Last October, OSTIn signed a Memorandum of Intent with the European Space Agency to collaborate on initiatives relating to space technologies, applications and downstream services in telecommunications and related fields, and will later today, renew a Memorandum of Understanding with the French Space Agency.
b. OSTIn has also worked with various partners, over the past year, to organise a variety of STEM outreach programmes, including a “Spacelab” programme where Singapore students spent several months designing microgravity experiments. One of the experiments was eventually selected for launch to the International Space Station in May this year.
15. Let me conclude by thanking our industry and research partners for joining us today to share your experiences and to discuss how we can encourage further growth in this exciting sector. I look forward to a robust and fruitful discussion and encourage everyone to share your ideas, so that collectively, we can push the frontiers of space.
16. Thank you.
Factsheet on Statement of Strategic Intent between the Office for Space Technology and Industry, Singapore and Amazon Web Services
1. The Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTIn) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced in November of 2021 that they are collaborating to accelerate space innovation in Singapore.
2. The goal of this collaboration is to foster the development of space technologies and support the creation of a vibrant, sustainable, and innovative space hub in Singapore.
3. This collaboration allows Singapore-based businesses, research institutions, and space startups to leverage AWS programmes and tools that will support the long-term development of the Singapore space sector.
4. OSTIn and AWS will work closely together on the following three key initiatives:
4.1. Long-Term Growth
OSTIn and AWS will encourage the growth of existing Singaporean commercial space companies, and develop an environment conducive to developing startups and new entrants. By H1 2022, Singapore space startups will be offered AWS Promotional Credits, virtual and in-person technical and business office hours and workshops with AWS experts, and access to the AWS Activate Program and AWS Startup Ramp.
4.2. Workforce Training and Development
OSTIn and AWS will develop future space industry talent and leadership by providing young professionals access to a catalogue of more than 500 free, on-demand online training courses including the AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials. This builds on the existing workforce talent development initiatives AWS has in Singapore.
4.3. Collaboration and Research
OSTIn and AWS will work with space data professionals and research institutions to identify space-related datasets to enable access, collaboration, and analysis of open data through the AWS Open Data Sponsorship Program, which will cover the cost of storage for publicly available, high-value, cloud-optimised datasets.
 Source: CNBC, “Investment in space companies hit record $14.5 billion in 2021, report says”. (2021).