Published on June 13, 2023

The IAF is proud to introduce the 2023 IAF Young Space Leaders!

IAF Young Space Leaders Recognition Programme

The IAF is proud to present the 2023 IAF Young Space Leaders!

The IAF Young Space Leaders Recognition Programme is awarded to exceptional students and young professionals, who contribute to astronautics in their academic or early careers, reach out to other young people and their communities to share knowledge and experiences, have been engaged with the international space community and contribute to IAF activities.

The 2023 IAF Young Space Leaders were chosen by a selection committee during the IAF Spring Meetings in March. They will be presented with their award during the Closing Ceremony of the 74th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) - IAC 2023, in Baku, Azerbaijan which will take place from 2-6 October 2023. Awardees also attend the IAC Gala Dinner as guests of the IAF President and enjoy a free IAC registration.


2023 IAF Young Space Leaders

Tensae Alemayehu ALI

Tensae Alemayehu ALI

Sales Engineer
CubeSpace Satellite Systems

Tensae Alemayehu Ali is a pioneering figure in African Space Science and Engineering, driven by a lifelong passion for exploration and a commitment to making a lasting impact. As a Mechanical Engineering graduate from Mekelle University, Tensae's visionary leadership and outstanding achievements have set him apart.

Currently the Regional Coordinator for Africa at the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), Tensae plays a crucial role in nurturing the next generation of space professionals. Alongside his role at SGAC, he recently joined CubeSpace ADCS as a Sales Engineer, a world-leading Satellite ADCS manufacturing company, where he contributes his technical expertise and exceptional communication skills to drive business growth.

Tensae's involvement expands beyond his positions at SGAC and CubeSpace. He has held key roles within SGAC, including the Regional and Local Events Coordination Team and the National point of contact for Ethiopia. His leadership skills were recognized by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), electing him to co-chair Africa Subcommittee of the IAF Administrative Committee on Connecting Emerging Space ecoSystems (IAF-ACCESS).

Passionate about raising awareness for the space sector, Tensae has organized impactful outreach activities in Addis Ababa and Mekelle. As part of the Executive Mekelle Branch office at the Ethiopian Space Science Society (ESSS), he inspires and engages young minds.

Tensae's exceptional contributions have earned him prestigious awards, including the Emerging Space Leaders award from the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) in 2022, the Top 10 Under 30 African Space Industry Award - Class of 2021 by Space In Africa, and the Global Grants Programme award by SGAC. His outstanding achievements and dedication continue to drive advancements in space science and engineering.

Driven by a boundless passion for exploration, innovation, and leaving a lasting legacy, Tensae Alemayehu Ali stands as a true trailblazer and a beacon of inspiration for aspiring space professionals worldwide. His technical expertise, exceptional leadership, and unwavering commitment continue to reshape the landscape of the space industry.



Head of Market Analysis and Business Intelligence
European Space Agency

Harriet Brettle is the Head of Market Analysis and Business Intelligence at the European Space Agency in the Telecoms & Integrated Applications (TIA) directorate. In this role, Harriet is responsible for the analysis of markets relevant to satellite communications and space solutions. Prior to joining ESA, Harriet was Head of Business Analysis at Astroscale and was Chair of the Space Generation Advisory Council. With a background in finance as well as degrees in planetary science and mathematics, Harriet is passionate about commercial sustainability and emerging market opportunities within the space ecosystem.



CEO & Founder
Astralintu Space Technologies

Matías is an Ecuadorian Aerospace Engineer and Educator who returned home to Ecuador after earning his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in the United States and beginning his career in the European industry. Under his leadership as Founder & CEO, he established his country's first space startup. Astralintu Space Technologies is growing rapidly and catalyzing the emergence of a dynamic space ecosystem not only in Ecuador but also in Latin America. Astralintu provides space services that make space more accessible to emerging countries worldwide. Its innovative business model has been recognized as a first-place winner in multiple international pitch competitions. Astralintu looks to connect the Global South to the benefits of space by deploying its signature project, the Equatorial Ground Station Network (EGSN) with its first ground station AST-GS1 "Initiative" already operating and tracking satellite constellations from Latitude 0°.

Matías’ life mission, Emerging Together Connected Through Space, has led him to actively participate in advocacy organizations. He serves as Vice-Chair of the International Astronautical Federation Administrative Committee for Connecting Emerging Space ecoSystems (IAF ACCESS) and Chair of the Latin American and the Caribbean Subcommittee (IAF LAC-SC). After successfully hosting the IAF's Global Conference on Space for Emerging Countries (GLEC 2022) in Quito, Ecuador, Matías focused on building a long-lasting legacy for space in emerging countries. He spearheaded the rebranding efforts of IAF ACCESS and the creation/reactivation of its five regional subcommittees, which are already promoting growth, collaboration, and exposure to bring the benefits of space to communities worldwide.

Space education and communication are crucial aspects of Matías' life, as he aims to unite students and young professionals in introducing New Space to countries where Traditional Space was previously unattainable. Matías volunteers as the STEM Program Director for the Sideralis Foundation, where he promotes space awareness and conducts educational and capacity-building activities for children and students of all ages. Additionally, his peers at the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) have entrusted him to serve as the Regional Coordinator for South America, connecting the region's space generation with global opportunities.

Absolutely honored to be recognized by the IAF as a Young Space Leader, Matías acknowledges the responsibility and the challenge of continuing to collaborate with fellow like-minded space leaders from all corners of the world. Together aiming to break the barriers of gender, geography, and generation in connecting a truthful Space for All.

Bethany DOWNER

Bethany DOWNER

Chief Science Communications Officer for the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes
European Space Agency

Bethany Downer, of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, specializes in science and technology communication for the space industry. She is the Chief Science Communications Officer for the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes for the European Space Agency, and she is the Director of Communications for STAR HARBOR - the world’s first publicly accessible spaceflight training facility and R&D campus for space. Bethany is a member of the IAF Space Education and Outreach Committee (SEOC) and the Workforce Development-Young Professionals Programme Committee (WD-YPP). She has also conducted space science outreach to over 10,000 Canadian students and is actively supporting students and young professionals in Atlantic Canada who want to pursue careers in the space domain. Bethany has twice been named one of Canada's Top 30 under 30, and is a recipient of the Canadian Sovereign’s Medal from the country’s Governor General.

Manny SHAR

Manny SHAR

Managing Director for UK & Europe
Orbit Fab

Manny Shar is the Managing Director for UK & Europe at Orbit Fab, supporting the development of an in-space propellant and materials supply chain. Manny is focused on technology development, commercialisation, and international growth for this leading space start-up. Manny previously helped develop BryceTech’s international consulting presence into a revenue generating and profitable business, managed the analysis of a multi-billion-dollar portfolio of assets at Inmarsat, and executed on cross-functional initiatives at top-tier investment banks. Manny sits on multiple advisory boards and committees, including the UK's Space Technology Advisory Committee, Spaceflight Safety and Regulatory Council, and the International Astronautical Federation’s Industry Relations Committee. He is a recipient of the 2019 and 2020 SSPI 20 under 35, SGAC’s Space Generation Leadership award, and the William S. Ball Award for Entrepreneurship.

He holds a master’s degree in space studies from the International Space University and a bachelor’s in computer science from the University of Kent.