Spaceports as gateway for sustainable access to space
22 June 2023
The course provides an outlook at the technologies for commercial access to space, in particular suborbital flight, near space flight, satellite air launch, re-entry systems. Special focus is provided to the suborbital flight with special emphasis to the operational aspects and the opportunities of space exploitation offered by a suborbital spaceflight system. Elements of the expected suborbital market are provided, ranging from the space tourism to microgravity experimentation, to astronauts and pilots training. Matching of the suborbital flight to the New Space Economy opportunity is also discussed. The course addresses the concept and implementation of Spaceports as pivotal assets for commercial access to space and presents the major Spaceport functions that are identified to properly run the asset in support of flexibility to adapt non only to the current technologies but to the future developments. The main criteria to establish a Spaceport and relevant assessment methodology is presented, and the future Italian Spaceport is discussed. The Course continues with the description of the Ground Segment, a paramount asset to properly support a space mission execution both during flight mission and ground operations. The main Ground Segment functions and elements are described and the associated operations. The course describes the experience gathered during the development and execution of the ESA Intermediate Experimental Vehicle (IXV) mission with details on the Ground Segment approach and various mission aspects. The mission was supported at the ALTEC mission Control Center in Torino, Italy. The course describes the aspects associated with the feasibility study of Spaceports evaluation in Malaysia and different study cases are presented. Malaysia is significantly interested in access to space and becoming part of the major international players. The class provides highlights on Regulatory aspects and in particular the outfitting of a Regulatory system that allows Spaceports outfitting and suborbital operations in the Italian Territory. Specific Forum are described such the European Spaceport Forum and the International Astronautical Congress, where participants are exposed to the state of the art in space business and can be part of promising network of operators. After the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, the space business has significantly changed, and the course provides an outlook of the new exciting opportunities ahead of us that are reshaping this fascinating business. The course provides elements to both doctoral students who are interested in enriching their curriculum with first-hand experience out of the space industry and operators who are interested in setting up space related services in support to the current and future developments.