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PloyU Empowering Students in Space Science

Image Credits: PolyU, Press Release

The Polytechnic University of Hong Kong (PolyU) has been actively fostering STEAM education by collaborating with secondary schools in Hong Kong. In order to enhance students’ STEAM abilities, the university provides a range of research projects and activities for their involvement.

The primary objective of PolyU’s involvement in space technology research and the promotion of space science education is to inspire and engage students. By partnering with the Orion Astropreneur Space Academy (OASA), the Department of Aeronautical and Aviation Engineering (AAE) at PolyU launched the pioneering PolyU CubeSat Mission – Space Debris Removal competition.

The event, the first of its kind in Hong Kong, aimed to cultivate students’ interest in space science and technology research and development. Through the integration of STEAM and space technology, the competition sought to ignite students’ curiosity and passion, encouraging them to explore the fascinating realms of space and contribute to the future of scientific innovation.

The winning team from St. Paul’s College produced a detailed video presentation outlining their innovative concept for launching a 6U CubeSat into space (the “U” stands for a unit for measuring the CubeSat’s size, with 1U being a cube with a length, width, and height of 10 cm). Their idea involved deploying the CubeSat into orbit to detect and track space debris, using a 1U portion of the CubeSat along with a graphene net and AI technology to capture objects. Furthermore, their meticulous design included a plan for safely de-orbiting the CubeSat and ensuring its return to Earth, while the captured debris would burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Head of the Department of Aeronautical and Aviation Engineering and Chair Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at PolyU expressed his admiration for the secondary school students’ remarkable skills and unparalleled creativity demonstrated in the STEAM-based project during the competition.

He acknowledged the students’ impressive engineering abilities and talents, emphasising the significance of motivating more students to participate in space-related research, particularly in satellite development. He also acknowledged the limitless potential of these students to become future youth scientists and expressed eagerness to have such talented individuals join their research teams at PolyU.

The President and Executive Director of OASA commended all the participants for their outstanding work and enthusiasm in exploring the latest advancements in space technologies. He expressed his hope that the competition would serve as a source of inspiration for students to pursue higher education or careers in space science, technology, and engineering. Prof. LI envisioned the participants as the future generation of astropreneurs and experts in astronautical engineering, poised to make significant contributions in the field.

Recent research has found that, in the near future, the space industry’s impact as an investment theme is expected to extend beyond Aerospace & Defense, influencing sectors like IT Hardware and Telecom. By 2040, it is expected that the global space industry could generate revenue exceeding US$1 trillion, with satellite broadband Internet access presenting significant short- and medium-term opportunities.

Satellite broadband is anticipated to contribute significantly to the projected growth of the global space economy by 2040, accounting for around 50% of the growth, and potentially up to 70% in an optimistic scenario. The deployment of satellites providing broadband Internet access will lead to a reduction in data costs, coinciding with a surge in demand for data.

With the increasing demand for data, primarily due to autonomous vehicles, it is projected that the cost of wireless data per megabyte will decrease to less than 1% of current levels. This reduction will be facilitated by reusable rockets and the mass production and technological advancements in satellites.

The cost to launch a satellite has already dropped from $200 million to approximately $60 million with reusable rockets, and it may potentially decrease to as low as $5 million. Furthermore, satellite mass production has the potential to significantly reduce satellite costs from $500 million to $500,000 per unit.


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