Smaller countries like Singapore can seize new opportunities in space: Teo Chee Hean

Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean speaks to Singapore Polytechnic students (from left) Ashwin Dinesh, Davis Zheng and Tristan Voon during the Global Space and Technology Convention at Grand Hyatt on Feb 6, 2020. With him is Senior Parliamentary Secretary Tan Wu Meng (centre). ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - There is more space today for smaller countries like Singapore to seize new opportunities among the stars, said Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean on Thursday (Feb 6).

This is because space technology and access to space are getting cheaper and easier with advancements in computing and manufacturing processes, paving the way for smaller countries to get into a US$415 billion (S$575 billion) sector.

"Space capabilities are now indispensable to our lives, and present new solutions to global challenges. For example, we now depend on advanced imagery and measurements from space to help us understand the effects of climate change," said Mr Teo, speaking at the 12th Global and Space Technology Convention.

"In the face of these transformations in the space economy... we will need to forge new norms, new capabilities and new partnerships."

More than 700 people are attending the two-day conference at the Grand Hyatt Singapore.

Singapore is taking steps to be part of the international conversation on norms to govern responsible conduct in space, and will be participating in the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space session this year as a new member, Mr Teo added.

He also announced that Enterprise Singapore and local company Singapore Space and Technology Limited (SSTL) are setting up an accelerator programme to boost the growing number of space start-ups in the Asia-Pacific region.

This includes access to market and capital, and support from international experts, said Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security.

SSTL also inked a contract with Cap Vista, the strategic investment arm of the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), to launch another programme that focuses on developing regional space start-ups.

Called Project Cyclotron, the programme will take in 10 companies which will receive guidance from a committee comprising potential investors.

"Accessing customers and scaling up is not a unique challenge but one that is particularly acute in a developing space region. Project Cyclotron provides connectivity to corporates, giving the industry access to innovation that is tested and reliable," said SSTL executive chairman Jonathan Hung.

The annual space convention went ahead as planned in the wake of news that three travellers who attended an event at the Grand Hyatt in January were infected with the coronavirus after returning home from Singapore.

Singapore's Ministry of Health said the meeting was attended by 109 participants from the same company, including 94 overseas participants who have all left Singapore.

The Grand Hyatt Singapore said on Wednesday that it has been disinfecting public areas, restaurants, meeting spaces and rooms to ensure the health and safety of its guests and employees.

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