Amidst the restrictions on international travel due to COVID-19, “APRSAF Online 2020” was held on November 19 under the theme of “Sharing Space Visions Beyond Distance”. Subsequent to the opening remarks by Mr. Hagiuda, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan, the following sessions were held.
- During the Country Reports Session, 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific region reported on their own efforts to continue space activities, despite a number of challenges posed by COVID-19 in the region.
- In the APRSAF Activities Reports Session, it was informed that the initiatives namely Sentinel Asia, SAFE, Kibo-ABC, and NSLI have been and will continue to be carried out remotely and in other creative ways. Also, the winners of APRSAF Poster Contest, open to children of age 8 to 11 in the Asia Pacific region, were announced.
- Best Poster Award to Miss Thy Phuc Khanh Nguyen (Viet Nam)
- In the Panel Session, panelists from various backgrounds, including start-ups and academia, discussed the roles of governments and private sector in fostering the growth of space businesses and what is needed for sustainable space activities. The panelists suggested that achieving linkage between information from satellites and that on the ground as well as collaboration amongst diverse players would lead to solving issues on the ground, and ultimately, to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They also expressed their expectation that governments and space agencies could support business activities as customer and take the lead in creating appropriate rules to ensure the sustainability of space activities.
- The Heads of Space Agencies Session was held with 12 Heads and 3 Representatives from space agencies in the Asia-Pacific region, who shared their visions of space initiatives in the challenging era of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many participants pointed out that it is in the midst of these constraints that innovations are created, and also the importance of space technology is increasing especially in supporting remote activities.
The APRSAF Executive Committee proposed the restructuring of the APRSAF Working Groups and the establishment of the APRSAF award. For both proposals, the APRSAF website will be open for comments until 25 December. It was also announced that the committee plans to finalize the details on the award program in February 2021 and the restructuring of the Working Groups in April 2021.
Finally, the four-hour event came to an end with the closing remarks from Prof. Minh, the President of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, who also announced the next APRSAF-27 will be held in Hanoi in 2021.