550 excited participants from 15 different countries are now in Adelaide, Australia, for the Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program (SH-SSP), a 5-week, residential program run jointly by the International Space University (ISU) and the University of South Australia (UniSA).

This is the seventh SH-SSP held at UniSA’s Mawson Lakes campus during the southern hemisphere summer, embodying the international, intercultural and interdisciplinary philosophy for which ISU is renowned.

Like its nine-week Space Studies Program (SSP) counterpart usually held in the northern hemisphere, the SH-SSP in a more condensed format focuses on space applications, space policy and space services, while giving a well-rounded overview of space science, space systems engineering and technology, space business and management and space legal and regulatory issues.

In 2018, alongside its longstanding stratospheric balloon launch and a newly introduced model rocketry component to the program, the participants will for the first time be involved in two separate Team Projects. The first of these will be examining the use of space in disaster management, while the second will be analysing the role of space agencies in emerging space countries (of relevance to Australia’s recent decision to establish a new space agency).

With 19 participants arriving in Adelaide a week early for the Space English Access Course, the remaining participants arrived on January 14th for this 5-week ISU experience that will be transformational for all those involved.

During this first week of SH-SSP18 participants have been joined by Dr. Soyeon Yi, South Korea’s first and only astronaut and a long-time supporter of ISU. They have already studied such diverse topics as Space Psychology, Space Project Management, Spacesuit Design, Space Ethics and Strategic Space Law. This packed first week has also seen the traditional ISU opening ceremony with participants representing their respective countries behind their national flags, team building exercises including the construction of a Rube Goldberg Machine and their initial Team Project meetings.

7The week will conclude with the ‘International Astronaut and Human Spaceflight Panel’ public event, where Soyeon will be joined on the panel by Prof. Walter Peeters, ISU President, and Dr. Omar Hatamleh, SSP/SH-SSP Director.

As described by participant Ali Akhtar, a SatCom Executive from Pakistan:

“This first week of SH-SSP has been one labour after the other, a labour of intensity and comradery and an all-out mind-blowing experience. I’m doing things I never thought I’d be doing.”

These sentiments are echoed by Desi Gancheva, an Australian Lawyer:

“It’s been an intensely fun and hectic week meeting so many amazing people and working on space projects I’d never thought I’d be doing and I’m so excited to be a part of this.”

With though four more weeks to go, the experience has only just begun for the 50 participants of SH-SSP18.


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1Another series of in-depth lectures, interactive workshops and new experiences for the participants of this year’s Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program (SH-SSP18).

Participants spent Saturday morning executing a successful Rube Goldberg machine, moderated by Korean astronaut Dr Soyeon Yi as a team building exercise. That evening, the public event concerning Astronaut and Human Spaceflight was held in Adelaide city. Dr Yi joined the panel with the International Space University’s president Professor Walter Peeters and with Dr Omar Hatamleh, the director of SH-SSP18.

Sunday’s rest day gave the participants an optional visit to Cleland Wildlife Park followed in the evening by a group debate concerning whether or not there is intelligent life beyond humans in outer space.SH-SSP18 at Cleland Wild Life Park

A further two public events this week were held at the University of South Australia’s Mawson Lakes campus; Dr Jacques Arnould of the French Institute of Space Studies (CNES) spoke of the Role of Ethics in Space, providing an introduction to the new responsibilities space exploration presents. Then came the Government, Industry and Universities Space Economy Development Panel moderated by Space Industry Association of Australia chair Mr Michael Davis. *

The first of two assessed quizzes was undertaken by participants this week, and if this doesn't seem like enough to keep participants occupied, on Tuesday the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group (AREG) briefed them in preparation a stratospheric balloon launch.

The launch, sponsored by Serafino Wines, is scheduled for Sunday 28 January 2018 though remains subject to wind predictions and fire restrictions. In the event the launch is postponed, the original launch day will still be one to remember, with participants presenting to invited guests on the planning and execution of what is required in the pre and post-launch phases. Both participants and guests are also able to enjoy a wine tasting and gourmet lunch generously provided by Serafino Wines.

7In such projects, SH-SSP18 participants are encouraged to try their hand in new disciplines. Chinese participant Meng Xu nominated to play a part in image processing within the balloon launch project, a role outside of his professional expertise.

“I didn’t have any technical background,” he explains, as a space administration project manager, “with the balloon I want to take opportunities to understand downstream control activities.”

With students using such team exercises to move beyond their traditional skill sets, the true interdisciplinary nature of ISU is ever present.

* All three of the above public events were livestreamed and are now available at www.youtube.com/spaceuniversity

Scott Schneider, currently teaching assistant with SH-SSP18 and a graduate of SH-SSP17.



What an awe-inspiring week we had here at the Southern Hemisphere Space Studies program 2018. We had everything from rockets and aliens, to dancing and a proposal!

Thanks to Bhattacharya Space Enterprises, participants had a unique experience on Tuesday to deconstruct and analyse 16 cubesats to understand the simplicity of this newspace hardware. Additionally, they had the opportunity to simulate a cubesat launch through software, coding elements on the spot and learning the basics of Arduino. To finish on a high, the participants each took a selfie with the cubesat camera to demonstrate the imaging techniques used by cubesats when in operation in outerspace.

This entire week illustrated the true diversity of the Space industry and ISU education, with inspiring topics covering disciplines ranging from space humanities and culture to space science; and technical talks by John Connolly, the chief of NASA’s Mars Study Capability team and a previous director of ISU.

Tuesday evening brought about a new addition to SHSSP, with the introduction of TechTalks, a play on the famous Ted Talks. Omar Hatamleh of ISU; Paddy Neumann of Neumann Space; Matthew Tetlow of Inovor Technologies; Andy Kieatiwong from Additive Rocket Corporation; Colin Hall from Future Industries Institute; and Bill Cowley on software dedicated radio, all gave 15 minutes presentations of their destructive technologies in the space sector.

A well established highlight of the SSP program (sister program to SHSSP) is the rocket building workshop series, run by John Connolly of NASA. This week SHSSP celebrated it’s inaugural series of rocket launches with all 49 participants taking part, the largest group in the workshops history! John flew downunder specifically for this and he grouped all 49 participants into teams based on skill-sets and key motivational drivers. Starting with the initial rocket design and build phase, participants were catapulted into action to design a rocket, simulate it’s stability and trajectory upon launch and gauge any alterations required for a successful mission. There was an added surprise too with a payload requirement of a small raw egg to be launched safely into the sky and return with a smooth landing. Elon Musk would be proud!

Dr Charley Lineweaver, provided a welcomed intermission from the intensive rocket building on Thursday evening by postulating the everlasting question of “Are we alone in the universe?” at the UniSA West Campus. With an enthusiastic turnout of participants and public, there was a vibrant atmosphere of curiosity and comedy as Charlie brought us along a journey starting with a human centric perspective of life in the universe, and finishing on a note of statistical probabilities and the insignificant chances of kangaroos ever forming on other planets.

SH-SSP18 rocket launchSaturday morning was Launch day and with T-2 hours, participants set off from their base at Mawson Lakes, heading to the launch site at Lowes Farm just North of Adelaide.The bus pulled up to a wide open field, typical of dried Australian outback, complete with some forceful dustdevils. This was our chosen launchpad in the heat of Australian summer! One by one all 13 rockets were launched over two intense hours with anticipation at an all time high. The rockets were named:

  • Rocket McRocky Face
  • Revenge 3
  • SFR
  • Tiger
  • Eye of the Dragon
  • The Sky Serpent
  • Unity
  • JMAC
  • Bunny Bunny
  • I2C
  • Sharky
  • Adelaide Rocket Crows
  • Disco de l’Espace

To finish off the week we had our second culture night, in which Trinidad and Tobago, USA, UK, Ireland and China presented highlights of their cultures. From songs and dances to local phrases and foods, we were entertained and well fed!

Presentations finished, cue the music and the disco lights, everybody dance now! One of our dear participants, Chubin had his girlfriend Lingxi join us for the evening. With the room full of energy, she graced the floor with an enthralling Chinese dance, which, to everyone’s surprise was interrupted by Chubin dropping to one knee with a bunch of flowers. He proposed and she said yes!! Without warning I had thoughts of the floor falling through with the crowd jumping for joy! Get your hats out everyone, we have an SHSSP wedding to look forward to! Congratulations to Chubin and Lingxi! :)

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The week kicked off early with the launch of a high altitude balloon on Sunday. AREG, the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group released the balloon from Murray Mallee, which is a wide open area of fertile land usually covered with grain crop and sheep, located to the north and west of the Mallee river in South Australia. This is the second balloon released by ISU and UniSA's SHSSP18, as the first launch was limited to a smaller mission due to weather conditions and forest fire warnings. This time around, the launch site was moved last minute to accommodate changes in wind direction which had impacted the predicted trajectory of the balloon. The payload of the balloon included a GPS device, a camera and an inertial measurement unit to determine the angle of the camera. There was also a spectrometer enclosed to detect light wavelengths.
The launch was a success with the balloon reaching a height of 32,507m. The payload was retrieved from an empty field and quality data sets were collected at the end of the mission.

  • Launch Date: 04/2/2018 23:59:04 UTC
  • Landing Date: 04/2/2018 02:19:52 UTC
  • Flight Duration: 2 Hours 30 Minutes
  • Launch Site: -34.878614 139.492314
  • Landing Site: -34.313174 139.107985
  • Distance Traveled: 72.7 km
  • Maximum Altitude: 32,507 m

To read more about the technical details of the balloon launch, take a look at the AREG blog.

The final exams took place on Monday and this could be felt in the atmosphere. Silence filled the Mawson centre, home of SH-SSP18, as participants studied with focus for the exam to mark the end of the core lecture series. The day was one of determination and concentration as one by one those exam questions got answered. A sense of relief filled the air as participants exited the exam hall at the end of the afternoon, heading to dinner to refuel those brain cells!

1With no time to spare, participants headed to their team project rooms after dinner to swing into full action on their team projects. There are two team projects this year: one called “Space Ready: The Launchpad for Emerging Agencies” and another called “Disaster Management: Space Based Solutions for Developing Nations”. Late nights and early mornings have been frequent this week as each team of approximately 25 participants work together tightly to create in-depth reports on their respective topics and prepare papers to submit to the IAC (International Astronautical Congress). Team bonding is pertinent to the success of the teams and this could be seen taking effect as the afternoons and evenings were decorated with moments of tension followed by moments of laughter and feelings of accomplishment. This week has been a week of intensive and on the spot learning between individuals from 15 nations and numerous professional backgrounds. The understanding and cooperation that had to evolve amongst these teams illustrates perfectly the unique culture of ISU and brings a spark to these final weeks of the SH-SSP18 experience.

2Dr. Christyl Johnson, NASA Goddard's deputy director for technology and research investments, made a special visit to SHSSP18 to spend a morning with the two team projects. Each team presented their project to Dr. Johnson and carried out discussions about their topics. And learning from Dr. Johnson and her experience. Conversation was flowing with ideas and information being conveyed between Dr. Johnson and participants and inspiration at an all time high. The meetings ended with an extraordinary atmosphere in awe of the achievements of these team projects. With all involved smiling at the experience, some great team photos were captured before Dr. Johnson left the teams, to continue their missions. A true SH-SSP18 memory!

The week finished with Friday’s culture night including five countries presenting their nations: Pakistan, Mexico, Bulgaria, Italy and India. The final presentation finished with a Bollywood dance by participants Amanda, Kavindi and Tom, after which local foods from each nation was presented for all to enjoy! A colourful end to an eclectic week of experiences!

AREG ISU balloon payload recovry

Payload recovery!

Photo courtesy of AREG http://www.areg.org.au/archives/date/2018/02