Ispace Europe managing director Kyle Acierno shown here with a lunar rover
Photo: Matic Zorman
Before bringing Space Cafe to Luxembourg, iSpace Europe managing director Kyle Acierno had attended one in Tokyo, Japan.
The international initiative, which has its roots in Washington, DC (US), launched last year in Luxembourg, with an aim “to build an accessible knowledge bridge for those inside and outside of the industry”, according to Acierno.
Generally, Space Cafe events are based around two talks, 15 minutes each, with topics ranging from science and engineering, commercialisation, politics--even art in space.
While the events are informative, keeping participants in tune with key industry developments, “We try to make it light-hearted…There’s even a game element to it,” Acierno says, referring to the trivia component of past events.
Already at its first gathering, the Luxembourg Space Cafe welcomed around 100 people--a figure which doubled at its most recent event--from a vast range of backgrounds. And they aren’t just from Luxembourg: Acierno says they’ve had attendees from the greater region, including students, senior citizens, teachers, even those who have a keen interest in philosophy. “We had a mother and a 12-year-old son come to join us,” Acierno adds. “They send me a really kind message after that this was the first time they attended, they felt welcome…That meant a lot.”
Of course, each event also provides a networking opportunity, with some professionals merely looking for ways to break into the sector as their next career move. And, given that there’s a “huge need from companies for new talent”, there are plenty of opportunities for employers as well.
“The new space industry is really about using products that already exist on the market and helping them to work in space,” Acierno says, adding: “A lot of times, we are not looking to recruit people from necessarily the space industry, we’re looking for people from outside the space industry to bring their talents into the industry.
“That kind of cross-pollination is really helpful when we’re developing new business models or new types of commercialisation techniques.”
Acierno was an intern himself at iSpace “when the company was small”, and he thinks that other interns in Luxembourg have seen a good success rate of getting jobs afterward, in part due to the flexibility of the rules set out by the government. iSpace gets many of its interns from the University of Luxembourg or the International Space University (where Acierno received his own Master’s in Space Studies). “Both of those institutions have been helpful in producing the type of graduate we need to hire after,” he says.
Looking forward, Acierno says the Luxembourg Space Cafe will continue as it has been but will be managed by the newly created, non-profit Luxembourg Space Federation. The Space Café will continue holding five to six events each year. The next one takes place on 16 July and marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. For more information, visit its Facebook page.