Imperial College London

Bringing space research closer to home: a roundup from Imperial's SpaceLab 2014


A comet-chasing mission, space vehicle design, space weather and more were all on show at Imperial's SpaceLab2014.

This one-day conference gave space scientists, engineers, industry experts and policymakers the opportunity to come together, collaborate and exchange ideas on how to apply space research and technology to everyday life.

When scientists, engineers, industry and government collaborate on space research great things can happen

– Professor Steve Schwartz

Director of SpaceLab

Director of Imperial College London’s SpaceLab Professor Steve Schwartz said: “The space research that we carry out at the College is partly about the wonder of space and understanding the universe, but it also brings benefits here on Earth. When scientists, engineers, industry and government collaborate on space research great things can happen from weather forecasting and GPS navigation to the exploitation of techniques to manipulate images of the Universe that are now commercialised and applied to medical diagnosis.

“SpaceLab 2014 is about reaching out across different academic departments and scientific disciplines, as well as industry, to come together, do something different and see what wider impacts our research might have.”  

Watch videos of some of the speakers’ talks to catch up on highlights from SpaceLab2014.

Why strong but lightweight materials are key for spaceflight

Dr Lilian Wang from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London showcased his innovative engineering solutions to deliver low cost, lightweight, stronger metal forming for wide applications in space launch and exploration.

Why are we chasing a comet?

SpaceLab2014 also gave space researchers the opportunity to talk about ongoing space missions. Dr Marina Galand from the Department of Physics at Imperial College London is currently working on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Mission, which aims to land on a comet for the first time. In her keynote presentation Dr Galand presented the latest data from Rosetta and said she was excited to find out what the ‘duck-like’ comet, with its cratered head and body, could tell us about our universe.

Growing the UK’s space industry

How can scientists and engineers help the UK Space Agency to grow? The UK Government has set itself a 400% growth target and is aiming to grow the sector to a £40billion industry by 2013. Catherine Mealing-Jones, Director of Growth, UK Space Agency said: “We are not just interested in growth from industry. We are just as interested in growth from education and growth from science and innovation… growth is a wheel of activity.” Watch Catherine Mealing’s presentation to find out more.

Connecting space research and industry

SpaceLab2014 also provided an opportunity to showcase how space technology can help us to manage our environment better here on earth. Tim Vallings the Commercial Director at Rezatec, which is a start-up company funded by Climate-KIC, uses satellite data and images to help businesses identify land use change and environmental risk. Watch Tim Vallings’ presentation to find out more.

Show and tell in the research marketplace

With over 40 different displays and exhibits, SpaceLab’s ‘Research Marketplace’ gave industry leaders and policymakers the chance to delve deeper into Imperial’s space research. High-powered lasers, space weather instrumentation, meteorites and satellites were all on show. Listen to our special SpaceLab edition of the Imperial Podcast and learn about moon craters, meteorites from Morocco, and how space satellites could help improve UK rail networks.

Collaborating on the final frontier

Drawing SpaceLab2014 to a close, Professor David Southwood from the Department of Physics chaired a panel debate asking how scientists, government and industry can collaborate to raise the impact of space research. Watch the panel discussion to find out more. 



Gail Wilson

Gail Wilson
Communications and Public Affairs

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