INTERVIEW: The many ways space technologies make the world a better place
Maruška Strah is the head of the World Space Week Association, which coordinates the thousands of activities planned for this year’s World Space Week. In an interview with UN News, before the stratospheric launch on Tuesday, she told us there’s a growing interest in space exploration, as more and more people realize how important space technology is to achieving a more sustainable future here on Earth.
The theme of this year’s World Space Week is “Space and Sustainability”. The UN Week, the largest annual space event in the world, will focus on explaining how the technologies developed to send objects and people into space, are having a direct benefit on the ground.
Maruška Strah, the Executive Director of the World Space Week Association, is a member of the International Institute of Space Law, and a member of the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety, as well as the European Centre for Space Law. She is studying for a PhD in Legal Studies at the Law Faculty of the University of Vienna, where she is focusing her research on Space Traffic Management, her main area of interest.
UN News Is interest in space growing?
Maruška Strah When I joined four years ago, we counted around 4000 World Space Week events, in 86 countries. Last year, we recorded 6418 events in 96 countries, so it's really growing.
More nations are becoming involved, and more people are concerned about space, what's happening in the sector, and also how space can benefit humanity.
I think there are several reasons for this. One is that we are seeing a lot of positive news from the media, when it comes to space exploration, and the dream of going into space is becoming more realistic, for more people.
Artists in space
Also, we are now understanding that everyone has a place in the space sector. It's not just for astronauts, engineers, or scientists. I'm a policy person, and I didn't know that space lawyers exist until I chose my Masters degree!
There will be opportunities for so many kinds of people, if we want to have a presence on another planet. We need artists, music, paintings, books. There's really an opportunity to explore, and we've seen a growing number of events that are related to exhibitions or art contests.
UN News What is the theme of World Space Week this year?
Maruška Strah Space and sustainability. This is very important thing, because it demonstrates our values, as an association committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There will be many really interesting events, looking at how we can use space related technologies and applications for the benefit of life on Earth, and how we can protect space as a resource.
For example, US Vice President Kamala Harris has announced a new coalition of space companies that will focus on increasing the space industry's capacity to meet the demand for skilled technical work for workforce in in the space sector.
Agencies team up
Several space agencies, including Azer Cosmos in Azerbaijan, the Pakistan space agency, and the European Space Agency, are planning events throughout the week, and Airbus will be sending its employees to talk to students in schools, showing them what they do, to inspire them.
Several individuals will be hosting events, and the calendar is filling up. All participants and event organizers are encouraged to register their events on a global calendar on our website, and send us information so that we can promote them on social media and other communications channels.
UN News What excites you about space?
Maruška Strah It's the only sector I ever came across that involves everyone. I don't think that we can go to space and take the issues we have here with us. I think we have to overcome them; conflicts have to be solved.
If I ever travel to space, I don't want to just sit in a rocket and end up on another planet. I would like poets with me. I want to see artists create amazing art based on what we see It's something that sparks imagination. And with that, you have progress.
It's also progress here on Earth, and this was one of the main reasons why we selected space and sustainability to be to be this year's theme, because space technologies and applications directly benefit humanity.
Out of the 169 targets within the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, 65 directly benefit from space technologies, and this is not even counting telecommunications. I don’t think we can survive without space technologies anymore, and I see beauty in that.
UN News Do you think that you might be able to go to space?
Maruška Strah I like this planet, and I really enjoy my life on Earth. For now, I have no need to leave, and I would like to make my environment better.