2015 Young Space Leaders (YSL) Recognition Programme

The annual Young Space Leaders (YSL) Recognition Programme recognises exceptional students and young professionals (age 21-35) who demonstrate leadership in their academic or early careers by contributing  to astronautics through their academic and/or professional activities, reaching out to other young people and to their community to share knowledge and experience, engaging colleagues in the international space community, and contributing to the work of IAF committees and/or volunteering in support of other Federation activities.

The IAF is proud to present the 2015 Young Space Leaders!

Those 6 students and young professionals were chosen by the Young Space Leaders Recognition Selection Committee composed of six higly experienced space stakeholders. They will attend the IAC Gala Dinner as guests of the IAF President and the IAC registration fees will be waived for the year of their induction.


Guillaume Pic

Guillaume Girard

Guillaume Girard has been involved in the space industry for more than 10 years. With 2 masters in space engineering and project management, he started his career as a satellite propulsion engineer for Thales Alenia Space, and then moved internally to the Operations department to prepare and operate the launches and early orbit operation phases of geostationary satellites. Guillaume moved forward to Munich, Germany to operate the International Space Station (ISS) Columbus module from the German Space Operations Center (GSOC). He worked as a spaceflight controller for the past 8 years and supported consecutively the ground segment, the payloads operations and the astronaut planning till March 2015. Guillaume was also instrumental in preparing for and executing the first software transition on board the ISS Columbus module, requiring delicate coordination between the Ground segment and the flight systems. He has published 2 papers at the IAC and at Space OPS after this European premiere to explain the difficulties in synchronizing operation aboard the ISS and the ground segment during such a transition. Certified ISS controller, ESA and NASA affiliate, he has been working under the leadership of INSYEN AG, one of the prime private providers of the Columbus Control center. Recently graduated from his MBA, Guillaume has now moved up to the Business development layer in order to grow INSYEN’s operational and systems engineering expertise into innovative space and aeronautic programs. Since 2010, Guillaume has engaged with the IAF aboard the Workforce Development – Young Professional Program committee (WD-YPP), and helped to develop the Young Professional Virtual Forums (YPVF) sessions at the IACs. These technical sessions offer to those young professionals who can’t travel to IACs the possibility to present their selected paper or simply attend presentations they would not see if they were not broadcasted online. Proving to be a success, these technical sessions are now part of a dedicated IAC symposium that Guillaume co-chairs. Active member of the IAF, Guillaume also joined in 2012 the Human Spaceflight committee thanks to his achievements in human space operations. Eventually, Guillaume became a partner of Zero2Infinity, a Spanish based company aiming at purveying manned travels to near-space and improving commercial space access to nano/micro-satellites.

Ryan L. Kobrick

My name is Dr. Ryan L. Kobrick and I have the ‘space bug’. As I have explored our planet, all of my efforts have been to catalyze space technology development, with a personal passion for human spaceflight. During the day, I am the Project Manager for Research and Development at Space Florida managing competitions, grants, and educational programs. During the night, I am the Chairman and President of Yuri’s Night, the World Space Party, helping connect people across the globe April 12th to celebrate and honor the past, present, and future of human spaceflight. My path from a chronic academic (Bachelors, two Master’s, PhD focused on Bioastronautics and lunar dust, and Postdoc) into the commercial space industry has taken me to “Mars” in Utah four times, to the High Canadian Arctic for a four-month Mars simulation, to eight IAC events around the world, and allowed me to help fly payloads to the International Space Station. Being a Canadian-American dual citizen has opened opportunities in both of my countries and given me a unique perspective on international cooperation. As an engineer who believes that the universal language is mathematics, I know that our future will involve more ‘cross-ocean’ partnerships as we sail towards the stars for all of humanity out of necessity to evolve. Or as my SEDS friends would say, “Space or Die”. I am proud to serve on the IAF Workforce Development/Young Professionals Program Committee (since 2010) and the IAF Space Education and Outreach Committee (inducted 2015), to help keep our successor ‘Next Gen’ members prepared. I have been in two Young Professionals Plenaries (2009 Moderator, 2010 Panelist) and had thirteen IAC papers with another on the way. Each experience has strengthened my international connections and taught me more about our diverse cultures, which is what brings us together.


Yu Xiaozhou

Prof.Yu Xiaozhou got his doctor degree in 2006 in Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) and then he stayed in NPU as a lecture. In 2009, he became an associate professor.Now he is the vice director of Shaanxi Engineering Laboratory for Microsatellites(SELM),NPU. Prof.Yu Xiaozhou leads a research team that is mainly of students and young professionals to make their own CubeSats. He is the project manager of two CubeSats projects that is a 12U CubeSat ‘star of AoXiang ‘and 2U CubeSat ‘Aoxiang-1’.The two CubeSats will be launched in 2016. Prof. Yu Xiaozhou has mentored many undergraduate students and graduate students. He have given lectures and written lots of high quality articles of the CubeSats. He is also the one of the main organizer of A national graduate students Future Flight Vehicle Competition(FFVC). As the only one flight vehicle competition supported by Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China, there will be thousands of students join the competition. In 2013, he have also hold an Aoxiang Cup Competition in Shaanxi province. Over 100 teams have joined the competition.For his work, Prof.Yu Xiaozhou has got a first teaching achievement award of ‘He Hongsen’ in 2014,a teaching achievement award in Shaanxi Province and four teaching achievement awards in NPU.Also, In 2014, two of his master students got the special prize from Shaanxi Province government for participating the AoXiang-1 Cubesat research. Prof.Yu Xiaozhou play an important role in the international CubeSats project QB50 that is funded by EU frame7 . NPU is Asia coordinator of the project and he is the key person and consortium committee member. Prof.Yu Xiaozhou is the Space University Administrative Committee (SUAC) member of IAF. He help SELM became the formal member of IAF .In 2015,he invited IAF as the main organizer of FFVC. In 2013, he invited IAF as the main organizer of QB50 Asia Workshop and funded the IAF-IPMC Young Professionals Workshop2013.

LULULulu Makapela

Project and Contract Manager: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

Lulu Makapela has been professional in the field of aerospace for a period of over 10 years.  Currently, Makapela works for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as Project and Contract Manager for the Aerospace and Composite Initiatives. With strong background and expertise in areas demanding strong project management,  legal, policy and space treaty implementation focus in broader areas , particularly highly complex areas  such as telecommunications, aerospace and space, earth observations and science , Ms Makapela has previously worked as  Project Manager  of the National Earth Observations and Space Secretariat, an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology  previously hosted at the CSIR, and Deputy Director of the Advanced Manufacturing Unit of the Department of Trade and Industry . She has also previously worked at the legal, international and Director-General’s office of the Department of Communications, as well as at  the  Scorpion Legal Protection and the National Prosecuting Authority during in the beginning of her career. As a young professional in space , Makapela has shown her commitment and dedication to contribute in space science and tecnology  and international cooperation in different ways. In 2013 , she was  appointed  to serve as a Member of the South african Council for Space affairs (SACSA) , a space regulatory body responsible for the regulation of space activities and serves as the Chair of the committee responsible to review the national  space legislation. With a  passion to attract the Africa youth to consider undertaking space science and legal  related  careers , she serves as  a Member of the Inernational Instiute of Space Law(IISL)  and  is the Africa Regional Co-ordinator for the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court competition which is held annually on the Africa Continent.  She is also the Co-Chair of the Africa Leadership youth Forum , which aims to promote space science among African young profffesionals and students.  In 2012, Makapela served as the Member of the organising team for the IAF IPMC  organising team, which seek to look at ways to better develop and empower the next generation.

Christopher Vasko

Even before considering to embark on the road that ultimately led to working on a PhD in applied physics, I was a big space enthusiast – from the works of literature to scientific documentaries, space exerted a strong fascination. Born into a large family with many languages, I was soon able to read the classics in their original language and naturally choose for more science classes in high school. The realisation that space fascinates everybody regardless of age, cultural or educational background came slowly working in volunteer associations, organizing public outreach events on astronomy and physics. Towards the end of my master course in physics I had the chance to work in a small SME on an ion engine, preparing to graduate from university, giving me an appreciation of just how hard it is to do anything in space. Space requires a high level of cooperation – not just between engineers and researchers, but involving many areas beyond and in between. I thus volunteered as intern for the European Space Policy Institute and for the Space Generation Advisory Council. I believe that all engineers and scientists should explore similar experiences – public communication and interdisciplinary cooperation are key for many aspects of space. The IAF has played a key role in giving me the opportunity to expand my own international network. This is facilitated by the work of several IAF committees focussed on working with the next generation of STEM YPs. I decided to join SEOC and the WD-YPP committees of the IAF to allow others to make the same experiences. I am very grateful for the mentoring I received over the years, especially as Next Generation Panellist in Toronto.

YSL - Pic - Liz SewardLiz Seward

I currently work for Airbus Defence and Space in the Business Development team of the Earth Observation, Navigation and Science department, as Head of the Marketing and Communications team. It is a transnational role, with responsibilities and team members in France, Germany and the UK. I started my career as a thermal engineer, working on the meteorological MetOp satellites for EUMETSAT, and creating a thermal model of Mercury when the design of the ESA BepiColombo mission included a lander. After two years I transferred to the future programmes team as a mission systems engineer where I worked on the early design of the ExoMars rover. After a short placement with the BBC, I moved into the area of marketing and communications for my division of Earth Observation, Navigation & Science. As a graduate I became a STEM ambassador, and then took over the site coordinator role for all STEM activities for several years. As a qualified Mars rover driver I have been to outreach and publicity events with our 1st rover prototype Bridget to promote the UK space industry to the general public. One aspect of my marketing role for Airbus Defence and Space is to raise enthusiasm for science and Earth observation space programmes amongst emerging nations globally – engaging senior government and industry representatives on a regular basis. So far I have represented Airbus space activities at high level conferences and receptions in Europe, USA, China, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. My involvement with the IAF started when I attended an IAC, and the young professionals programme was invaluable at helping me make contacts with other young professionals and provided access to senior members of the space industry. I am now a vice-chair of the Workforce Development and Young Professionals programme and a member of the Entrepreneurship and Investment Committee. Through these positions I hope I can help to build a stronger space industry.


15708666315_65a4117074_o2014 Young Space Leaders with Lyn Wigbels, AAS President and Kiyoshi Higuchi, IAF President