SpaceUP Vienna 2014 Report

SpaceUP Vienna – April 12th 2014 at the Technical Museum Vienna


 The first SpaceUP in Vienna was held on April 12, 2014, at the Technical Museum in Vienna. It was organised by the Association dedicated to promote Astronomy and Spaceflight “Der Orion” in cooperation with the Austrian Space Forum, the Space Generation Advisory Council in Support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications and the Vienna Technical Museum.

But first things first – what is a SpaceUP? A question that around ¾ of our participants and a majority of our organisers pondered themselves, as it was their first SpaceUP. But this is not all too surprising, as this was only the 7th or 8th SpaceUP in Europe since it “arrived” from the USA in 2012. A SpaceUP is basically an “unconference”, very much like a barcamp, where “space” is at the heart of all presentation topics – whether that takes the form of a classical presentation, a discussion or an open panel. It is officially a “laid back get together” to discuss space and share our common passion.

You might wonder how such a meeting might work. Can you really just show up and make a presentation? Just like that, with no prior organisation, peer review or preparation?

Well, yes. It simply works just like that. As organisers we only had to provide a location, the gadgets, a few special guests, goodies and of course some coffee and food. The content is provided by the attendees, and it really works!

60 people from 15 nations got together for the first Austrian SpaceUP. Astronomy fans, space-geeks and people actively involved in the space sector met on the 12th of April in Vienna. After a few brief words on logistics and an introduction to our sponsors who made this event possible, our first invited speaker addressed the attendees. Werner Gruber, President of the Vienna Planetarium, elaborated on synthetic intelligence and it’s role in space flight, while the students of Sandra Häuplik-Meusburger and Barbara Imhof stimulated our fantasies concerning space architecture and design concepts.

An essential part of all SpaceUps is an introduction round, where all participants, organisers and special guests briefly introduce themselves and their background using 3 hashtags. This serves to break the ice and stimulate discussion among the participants.

But as a SpaceUP is a not a typical conference, the special guest lectures are the only fixed programme. The “grid” is put to use: it serves as tool to organise contributions by participants by topic, time and location. It is the heart of any SpaceUP and changes in the course of the day several times, as participants pool interesting/similar topics around the same time slots and expand or reduce those as they see fit.

In principle, you can prepare two kinds of contributions to attend a SpaceUP: a 15 minute oral or so called “T-5” ignite talks. The later are ideal to raise awareness for your topic and incite discussions, very much like TED talks. Beyond these, one may aim to create and moderate panel or open discussion, or simply address a very interesting topic alone or as part of a team – uncomplicated and spontaneously.

Topics of the first Austrian SpaceUP featured the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Mission, “Juice” a mission to Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, space architecture, rocket construction, the significance of social media in science outreach, Austria’s role in Analogue-Mars research amongst many other exciting topics.

Our T-5 talks featured solutions for living and creating artificial gravity on orbital space stations, a first hand experience of a launch from Russia’s Cosmodrome in Baikonur, as well as using special plasmas to heal wounds of future astronauts. On the other side, a long discussion on the ethics of issuing one way tickets to willing participants of future exploration missions attracted the interest of many participants.

Last but not least, the participants had the chance to visit the exhibit “Space” of the Technical Museum during their breaks and directly after the conference.

Measured by the overall satisfaction, the positive feedback and the good, dynamic mood during the day, the first Austrian SpaceUP was a full blown success. We hope that we inspired enough participants to be able to look forward to the next SpaceUP in Austria!

At this point a big thank you to all of you, those that organised, assisted, our sponsors and our host, the Technical Museum.

Pictures available:

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