2015 Emerging and future Space Leaders grant winners

The Emerging Space Leaders (ESL) Grant Programme enables each year 14 students and young professional between the age of 21 and 35 to participate in the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), as well as in the UN/IAF Workshop and the Space Generation Congress, both held the week prior to the Congress.

The IAF is proud to introduce the 2015 Emerging Space Leaders!

These 14 students and young professionals were chosen by the Emerging Space Leaders Steering Committee composed of six higly experienced space stakeholders. They will fly off to Jerusalem in October 2015 to participate in the IAC and have the opportunity to extend their network, gain knowledge and meet all the relevant people in space industry.

Hripsime Matevosyan


I am a PhD student in the field of Space Systems Engineering and Systems Architecture in Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in the Strategic Innovation Research Group (SIRG) led by professor Alessandro Golkar. My Bachelor’s degree is in Informatics and Applied Mathematics from Yerevan State University (YSU) and Master’s degree is in Control and Applied Mathematics from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT). I started my professional career as a software developer during my studies in YSU in a mobile development company. After being awarded a scholarship from Institute for System Programming of Russian Academy of Sciences (ISP RAS), I started working in the YSU laboratory for Systems Programming and later was invited to work in ISP RAS in Moscow. As a member of the open source software community, I was attracted to the research at SIRG by the idea of resource sharing in space. My research focuses on Virtual Satellite Missions (VSM): missions constructed by combinations of space assets already orbiting the Earth. VSMs are poised to open the boundaries to broader circles and raise the awareness of the vast applications of space assets. The space sector was always considered a private, closed playground of big players worldwide. The paradigm is shifting. Regardless of any political, religious or other affiliation, humankind is united in its wish to push the boundaries and discover new things. As Carl Sagan said “Somewhere something incredible is waiting to be known”, and that is what important.

Kingsley O. Ukaegbu


Kingsley Ogochukwu Ukaegbu was born on 11th September 1990 in Imo State, Nigeria. He studied Environmental Technology at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria. He specializes in the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing techniques in Environmental Monitoring and Management, especially in Pollution Control. He had his early formal education in Imo State, Nigeria. He enrolled into Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria and graduated in October 2014, as one of the best graduating students, from the School of Environmental Science and Technology. He pioneered and facilitated the FUTO Geospatial Club, to educate undergraduates and other stakeholders on the role and benefits of space technology in Nigeria. He is a member of the NEMA-Emergency Management Vanguard and the Nigerian Environmental Society. Mr. Kingsley is currently participating, since May 2015, in the one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), a compulsory scheme for graduates in Nigeria. He was intern at National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) Abuja, Nigeria, as part of the rigorous requirements for Bachelor’s Degree in the University. During the training, Kingsley excelled in image processing, image interpretation and analysis, geospatial intelligence and among other space applications areas of GIS and Remote Sensing. He has served as a GIS and Remote Sensing freelance and tutorial-teacher in various High Schools and undergraduates in Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria. He has keen interest in skills development on space technology, encouraging the younger generations to have a role in understanding this technology, which holds the ace for sustainable and future development of our country. Thus, he has started collaborative community development service in space technology applications. Kingsley has also volunteered to contribute and coordinate the space education and outreach programs for local teachers in many High Schools in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, where he is currently serving Nigeria as a Corps Member.

Ukaegbu’s IAC Video Promotion

Luis Zea


Dr. Luis Zea has been involved as an aerospace engineer in multiple experiments conducted onboard the U.S. Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS). As a researcher, he has focused on using the space environment to find solutions to problems on Earth. For example, from the “Antibiotic Effectiveness in Space (AES-1)” experiment conducted on ISS, he is investigating bacterial resistance to antibiotics, a problem that kills around 100,000 people every year. He is also supporting his alma mater, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, in the design and development of a satellite for monitoring contamination in the country’s lakes. Luis has been granted several awards, including the AIAA Orville and Wilbur Wright Award, CASIS Student Investigator Spaceflight Award, the University of Colorado’s Aerospace Graduate Student Service Award, and the DAAD Research Fellowship for Doctoral Candidates and Young Scientists, which funded his work at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) for half a year. Luis has seen first-hand the benefits that space based research and assets can have for people on Earth and therefore is passionate about the democratization of access to space. He is a strong believer that international collaboration on space exploration can be an endeavor that one day unites humanity.

Norah Patten


Dr. Norah Patten is the Communications and Outreach Manager with the Irish Centre for Composites Research (IComp). Norah is Adjunct Faculty at the International Space University and Co-Chair of the Space Humanities Department for the Space Studies Program (SSP) 2015. She is also a Space Generation Advisory Council National Contact Point in Ireland and contributes to the Astronomy Ireland magazine. Norah coordinated ‘The Only Way is Up’ initiative at IComp in which, through a partnership with Nanoracks, the first experiment designed by Irish secondary school students was sent to the International Space Station in July 2014. She graduated with a 1st class honours degree in Aeronautical Engineering and in 2011 received her PhD from the University of Limerick. She was Emerging Chair of the Space Management and Business Department at SSP12 and Chair in 2013. Norah has interned at the Boeing Company in Seattle, Washington, USA and Bell Labs Alcatel Lucent in Dublin; she has featured on national television and other media including national radio and newspapers; and is a regular speaker at public events. Norah’s mission is to inspire the next generation of engineers and astronauts. Ireland is a country without a Space Agency or Space Strategy and Norah’s perspective is that international cooperation in space activities is a fundamental need for the benefit of all humankind. Space is one of the few platforms that can draw humanity closer, and it should be leveraged and promoted for all the good it brings to life on Earth.

Rene Michel


Rene Horacio Michel Valencia has a degree in Electronic engineering, he loves technology as a way to simplify hard job and task; He is convinced that education is a the path that one has to shape in order to have better generations after us. He got interested in research and education while being a student at the university and has worked with the UWC, WHY Bolivia, among other institutions. After this, he was part of a one year technology transfer in a program in China by CAST/GWIC, as part of the TKSAT-1 project of the Bolivian Space Agency. While being in China he realized that TOT (Transfer of Technology) is not a business that implies only buying a satellite but being able to create technology in our home, he started a program with some colleagues which had as a result an Aerospace seminar in Bolivia (2014). Now he is taking the idea to a next level, working along a university (EMI) in Bolivia, is leading an Aerospace Research Program which as product will have drones and mini-satellite subsystem designed and built in Bolivia. His statement is “We do not need big economical budgets, but huge human budgets, we need students dreaming of creating technology by human for the world, for then will have a world for all beings” International cooperation is crucial for his path, because we learn from other experiences by giving a hand to those in need.

Rene’s IAC Video Promotion

Siddharth Pandey


Siddharth Pandey is a PhD student at University of New South Wales at Canberra, Australia. His work is on Understanding Thermal Convection on Martian Surface to aid Design of a Mars bound Rover. Previously, he was an Education Associate at NASA Ames Research Center. He worked with the Space Sciences Division investigating Fluidized Granular Flows in reduced gravity to aid design of Pneumatic Sample Acquisition Systems. He also worked with the Space Biosciences Division to design and develop Microgravity Bioscience Payload for research conducted on board the International Space Station. His work on two successful spaceflight experiments was honoured when his team received the NASA Spaceflight Awareness Team Award in May 2014. He holds a Master’s degree in Space Systems Engineering from Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands and a Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Amity University, India. As a Researcher with the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science and Mars Society Australia, Siddharth is helping coordinate joint Astrobiological field research and workshops in India with support from relevant research groups within US, Australia, New Zealand and India. His goal is to promote scientific collaboration between groups in India and elsewhere and also increase planetary science and Off-Earth surface exploration research exposure among Indian university students. On a personal level, he maintains links with students and staff at his previous educational institutions and helps mentor students with career and research relevant advice. He is also a Canberra Student Ambassador with the ACT Government, Australia.

Suman Gautam


Suman Gautam is a founder project Coordinator at Pokhara Astronomical Society (PAS). In this role, he serves as an advisor to science community and represents the science to community through Research, Education and Advocacy. In addition, he serves as a vice- chair for the Hands on Universe Nepal chapter and Board Member on Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO), where he involved in renewing scientific education at high school being deeply involved in the Galileo Teachers Training Program and the Hands- on Universe consortium. He received M.Sc. Physics from Tribhuvan University, Prithvi Narayan Campus, Pokhara. He has been involved as a freelance teacher of physics and Mathematics for high school students and gives talks about astronomy and space science in school, college and public. He has reached thousands of students and public conducting night sky observation in different places of Nepal. His research interests include the application of space science in exploring the management of natural resources through remote sensing, where he attends numerous workshops, on the application of Space Science to Agriculture, Disaster management and land use. Suman’s primary interest is on Global Navigation and satellite application. His view on challenges of developing Nations in falling to adopt the integration of space science and technology in their economics can be solved by regional and international involvement.

Beza Tesfaye


My name is Beza Tesfaye born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I have BSc. in Global Studies and International Relation and Advance Diploma on Commuter Science. Currently I’m a post graduate student of computer Science at HiLCoE School of Computer Science and Technology in Addis Ababa. I have great passion for space science, Astronomy and space technologies. I am active member of Ethiopian Space Science Society (ESSS) since 2004, its establishment. I actively participate in space science outreach events and education programs. From 2006- 2010 I have worked as education and outreach coordinator, organize events like World Space Week, Yuri’s Night World Space Party , Stargazing nights and community outreach activities. I have served as National Point of Contact of Ethiopia for two terms (2010- 2014) for Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) and now I am Regional Coordinator for Africa until 2016. In 2013 I was a part of SGC2013 organizing team and part of SGAC Earth Observation working group also in 2013 I have received SGAC Young Leadership Award that enabled me to attend 12th SGC in Beijing China. During my work at SGAC I have had opportunities to meet with young professionals, student around the world and influential people in space sector that motivate me to go out in the world and explore more knowledge and opportunities, also in turn to contribute my part. I believe international cooperation is the only way in using space knowledge to the fullest of its potential.

Gabriel Lapilli


Native of Argentina, graduated as a Mechanical Engineer from the National Technological University in Cordoba. Finished a MS in Aerospace Engineering and is currently a PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering at Florida Tech. Participates in multiple aerospace-related projects including Slosh, a fluid dynamics experiment on the International Space Station that earned him a Top Engineering Development award from the American Astronautical Society. Working in the Aerospace Systems And Propulsion (ASAP) and the Mechatronics and Dynamics Systems laboratories at Florida Tech, merges fluid dynamics with control systems. Propellant behavior and spacecraft control are his main areas of study, with a dissertation topic centered on controlling flexible rockets using fiber optic systems. A new chapter in space exploration is being written with immense international cooperation. Today’s young professionals will be the leaders that push boundaries in the coming years.

Jesus Gonzalez


Jesús González-Llorente received his B.S. degree in Electronics Engineering from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in 2003. He also received a graduate diploma in Software Engineering from District University Francisco Jose de Caldas in 2005 and his M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez in 2009. During his master studies, emphasizing in control systems, he studied techniques for improving the efficiency of photovoltaic systems. In 2010, he worked as research intern for Cornell University in the Arecibo Observatory, the world’s largest and most sensitive radiotelescope located in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. In summer 2013, he was a visiting scholar in University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, USA. He is currently a faculty member of the Universidad Sergio Arboleda in Bogotá, Colombia where he is also the team leader of the Electrical Power System for Libertad 2 nanosatellite, and he encourages undergraduate students to take part in the satellite project. He have been Principal Investigator of a research project funded by Colciencias, the Colombian Administrative Department of Science, Technology and innovation, for analyzing of collected solar energy and its efficient use on 3U Cubesat nanosatellites. His current research activities include the design of electrical power systems for nanosatellites and modeling and control of low power dc-dc converters.

Laura Leon Pérez


Laura León Pérez received the double degree in the Aerospace Engineering Master Degree from the University of Seville and the Space Engineering Master of Science from the Politecnico di Milano in April of 2013. She collaborated in the Aerospace Engineering and Fluid Mechanics Department in the University of Seville during 2010 where she developed a wing model for experimentation in the wind tunnel. From 2012 to 2013, she was employed in the Von Karman Institute of Belgium as Space Engineering Researcher for experimental investigation of the aluminum nano-powders oxidation to understand and control this phenomena. Then, she moved to the company Solar MEMS Technologies where she is currently working as Space Specialist Consultant and Mission Manager of the service Test In Space. She started coordinating the first Andalusian satellite mission, Cepheus, according to the ECSS and CubeSat specifications, where she also managed the platform design, payloads interfaces and integration procedures. After this experience, she became the Mission Manager of the Multi-Payload Satellite Program and she is in charge of the quality management of the projects and products related with Space applications. Her expectations, regarding to the professional area, are to go on learning about space systems and quality in order to grow towards the space science expertise and to reach her ambition of becoming a successful Space professional involved in innovation and challenging missions.

Laura’s IAC Video Promotion

Sultan Assipov


My name is Sultan Assipov. I am 28 years old and for the last 5 years, I work in the space industry. I went through some internships in Airbus DS and SSTL, where I was a specialist for the electronics of optical payload. Today I’m a systems engineer for the SKTB project that aims to start the manufacturing of space components in Kazakhstan, and it is a very ambitious project. In addition, I’m a second year Masters student in Nazarbayev University for the Engineering Management program, so for the last year I’m more interested in managerial aspect of space industry than for the engineering one, but still I get excited when the high tech space technologies are involved. I’m really happy to be here, and to present my Country and the Company. My company, “Ghalam” is very young and it is important for us to become an honorable member of the world space community. International cooperation in Space is natural because there is no borders up there, and humanity should be united for the sake of better future. I really hope to make my space network here, and my LinkedIn account is ready for many new connections.

Dalin Li


I have been working in National Space Science Center (NSSC), the Chinese Academy of Sciences, for more than six years. My work mainly focus on space mission analysis and satellite operations. I have taken charge of several projects in these fields, including (1) the YH mission, which is the Chinese first Mars explore mission and out of control after launching unfortunately, (2) the software development on visualization, simulation, and analysis for more than ten earth observe satellites, (3) the software development for the Concurrent Design and Simulation Center (CDSC) at NSSC, which is used for China’s space science mission design and simulation, like the Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) in ESA. I’ve earned fertile experience from these projects. And now my mainly work is related with the Strategic Pioneer Program on Space Science (SPPSS), which is the most important program on space science in China.The fundamental research related to this program during the “Twelfth Five-Year Plan” period focus on the properties of black hole, physical laws under extreme conditions, the nature of dark matter, kinetic theory of matter and fundamental laws governing life in space, influence of the Sun on the Earth space weather, and the analysis of non-locality of quantum mechanics. A project I’m in charge of is development of the scheduling and planning system for the operation center built for SPPSS. Another project I’m in charging of is the study on space science mission analysis techniques, which is also supported by SPPSS.

Milan Mijovic


Milan Mijovic has graduated from Law school, University Union, Belgrade, where he obtained BA and MA degree in law. He is currently enrolled at Ph.D. Studies at Law School, University Union in Belgrade. His doctoral Thesis shall question problems relating to property rights in Space, Moon and other celestial bodies, which shall be the first Space law related Thesis in Serbia. His plans are to introduce more detailed regulations regarding property rights outside the Earth, in order to establish an organized and legal system. Milan began researching Space law in 2012, when he participared in a competition organized by his Law School for best essay with a topic from Transportation law. After he won first prize for his essay with a topic: “Legal Aspects of Space Traffic”, and following the publication of his work in Legal journal of his Law school, Milan became asserted to pursue a carrer in Space law. Since 2013, Milan is an active member of an internation organization called Space Generation Advisory Council, being a National Point of Contact for Serbia. During the years, Milan provided the best efforts of introducing Space law to Serbia, especially to Universities, Legal experts and general comunity.

Milan’s IAC Video Promotion

Future space leaders grand programme

The Future Space Leaders Foundation (FSLF) is also pleased to announce the 2015 Future Space Leaders Grant Program providing opportunities for U.S. graduate students and young professionals pursuing space and satellite-related careers to participate in the 66th International Astronautical Congress (IAC).

The 2015-16 FSLF Grant Winners are:

Justin Atchison is a young professional who received his PhD in Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University in 2010. Dr. Atchison served as a graduate exchange researcher at JAXA in 2008 and now works at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory as a mission design and navigation engineer. He is the Mission Design Lead for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), which aims to test and characterize asteroid impact mitigation techniques, making our local solar system more accessible and secure.

Sarah Hefter Flanigan is a member of the Senior Professional Staff at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and holds degrees in Aerospace Engineering from both Virginia Tech and Cornell University. She was the Lead Guidance and Control Engineer on the MESSENGER mission whose spacecraft was the first to orbit Mercury. She is also the Deputy Lead Guidance and Control Engineer on the New Horizons mission whose spacecraft will fly by Pluto on July 14, 2015. She plans to share a paper on the much-anticipated New Horizons mission at the IAC.

Raphael Perrino is an M.A. student in International Science and Technology Policy with an emphasis in Space Policy at George Washington University, and plans to graduate in August 2015. He holds an M.S. in Technical and Scientific Communication from James Madison University and is an Eagle Scout. Mr. Perrino is an Aerospace Analyst at The Tauri Group and has worked on the GAO 2015 NASA Quicklook, FY16 NASA Budget Request, and Start-Up Space study. He has authored and co-authored several papers on Space Policy, including one on NASA’s Commercial Crew Program that he has submitted to this year’s IAC.

Ms. Jillianne Pierce. In her position as Government Affairs Associate for the Space Foundation, Jillianne regularly interfaces with the Administration, Congress, and various federal and international departments and agencies to educate key decision-makers on issues of importance in the space policy arena. A member of the Florida bar, Jillianne earned a J.D. from the University of Miami and a B.A. from the University of Central Florida. Her IAC presentation will focus on how commercial imaging satellites can provide evidence of human rights abuses, and how such image-gathering influences the evolution of the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine.

Julia Stalder is a young professional who plans to complete her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering at UCLA in June of 2016. She currently works at the California Institute of Technology’s NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she has had the opportunity to work as a mechanical engineer on the Surface Water and Ocean Topography program for CNES and the ISS instrument RapidScat. Julia is a recent recipient of the NASA Early Career Achievement Honor Award. She is also the only applicant who is a panelist at the Next Generation Plenary.

Paul Warren is a student and young professional at Stanford majoring in Computer Science. He has helped organize and has participated in numerous space and zero gravity experiments, and is now the co-president of the Stanford Space Initiative (SSI). SSI will send the first university-built rocket to space, launch two satellites, send a weather balloon across the United States, and has generated enough interest in space for Stanford to create a new Aerospace and Aeronautics program within the next three years. Warren continues to use his experience and contacts within the space industry to help fellow students develop space related careers.

The board of the Future Space Leaders Foundation is proud to award its 2015-2016 grants to an accomplished group of graduate students and young professionals. Future Space Leaders Foundation chairman Clayton Mowry said, “We are excited to provide access to the IAC and other important industry symposia for this promising group of young space and satellite professionals.”