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Karman Week 2023 heads to the Maldives

27 October 2023By Hannah Ashford

By Hannah Ashford

Showcasing International Cooperation for Climate Resilience and Capacity Building

Friday, 27th October 2023 [Berlin, Germany] - The Karman Project, an internationally recognised non-profit foundation comprising impact-driven leaders from across the global space sector, has announced that it will bring its high-level delegation of Karman Fellows to the Maldives for its flagship event, ‘Karman Week’. In collaboration with the Maldives Space Research Organisation (MSRO) and Six Senses Laamu, the event is set to take place from November 1st to 5th, 2023.  

The distinguished annual Fellowship Week will witness the convergence of 15 global space leaders at Six Senses Laamu - the pre-eminent sustainable resort in the Maldives, and home to the Maldives Underwater Initiative - marking a crucial milestone in the Maldives' journey towards establishing a first national space ecosystem. The collective goal of the event is to showcase international cooperation in action, accelerating efforts in leveraging satellite technologies to bolster the nation's climate resilience initiatives through shared expertise.

"The Karman Project and the Maldives Space Research Organisation share a joint commitment to advancing space technology for the betterment of our planet," said Hannah Ashford, Managing Director of The Karman Project. "Through Karman Week, we aim to combine our collective expertise and resources to empower the Maldives in building a sustainable and resilient national space program, whilst creating a once-in-a-lifetime leadership experience for our Fellows." The 2023 cohort of Karman Fellows were selected earlier this year in recognition of their professional accomplishments and commitment to shaping a positive future in space, and includes astronauts, space agency directors, corporate directors, leading entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and artists from 12 countries.

In the true spirit of its “space-for-impact” mantra, The Karman Project has designed a program centred upon its six Impact Themes (Sustainability, Education, Empowerment, Cooperation, Science and Inspiration), in close collaboration with its partners. The 2023 Karman Week will encompass comprehensive workshops, collaborative brainstorming sessions, field trips and local outreach engagements, fostering an environment for innovative ideas and cross-cultural knowledge exchange. Participants will delve into pertinent topics such as climate monitoring systems, capacity building, effective space policy design and the current state of space exploration. Highlights of the program include: 

- A public panel discussion in Malé about careers in space, organised in coordination with the Maldives Ministry for Higher Education and The Maldives National University

- An intensive Space-for-Maldives Workshop, with participants from the Maldives Underwater Initiative, an award-winning marine conservation initiative made up of resort marine biologists and three partners, the Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation and the Olive Ridley Project.

- A visit to the Hithadhoo School, where Fellows will work alongside students to design postcards to send into space with Club for the Future

- Engagement activities with the guests of Six Senses Laamu, including guided stargazing, an inspirational talk and art projects. 

- An internal “Chatham House Day”, in which the Fellows will address pertinent issues and challenges facing the future of the space sector. 

- Field trips, including snorkelling and scuba diving to experience the biodiversity and life of the Maldivian coral reefs.

“Karman Week is a cornerstone event in the international space community, bringing together a diverse group of leaders keen on fostering global collaboration in space,” said Madin Maseeh, President of the Maldives Space Research Organisation. “This year's edition being in the Maldives is symbolic and historic. It marks our nation's entry into a vital global dialogue and showcases our aspirations in the space sector. Our shared ambition is to not only engage in meaningful discussions, but to also catalyse initiatives that will help position the Maldives as an active participant in space exploration and research.”

Lawrence Menz, Director of Sustainability and Conservation at Six Senses Laamu, expressed his enthusiasm, saying Six Senses Laamu and the Maldives Underwater Initiative have achieved remarkable progress in marine conservation. It is through our numerous local, national, and global partnerships that we lead sustainable marine tourism in the Maldives. We are tremendously excited about our partnership with The Karman Project and the opportunity to host Karman Week. We're hoping that integrating space technologies with our research and conservation will take it to the next level, and we can't wait to see the impact.”

The decision to bring the distinguished annual Fellowship Week to the Maldives followed The Karman Project’s participation in the inaugural Space for Island Nations Conference earlier this year (Maldives, 2nd to 5th May 2023), in which topics such as resilient communities, the ‘Blue Ocean Economy’, equatorial opportunities, and new space policy making were addressed. The Karman Project, the Maldives Space Research Organisation, Six Senses Laamu and the Maldives Underwater Initiative will continue to work together beyond the flagship event, committing to a longer-term vision for the development of 'Digital Earth Maldives', a robust monitoring system for the nation. 

The Karman Project extends its sincere gratitude to its esteemed supporting partners, in particular Six Senses Laamu for their invaluable contribution in hosting the delegation, the Maldives Space Research Organisation and the Maldives Underwater Initiative for their co-design of the event, Trans Maldivian Airways, the official transfer partner for the event, and Intour Maldives, the official travel partner for MSRO. The Karman Project would also like to. The foundation would also like to thank its ongoing supporter for 2023, The European Investment Bank

The Karman Project will soon open expressions of interest for host destinations for Karman Week 2024 (September-November, 2024). 

For further information on The Karman Project's Fellowship Week in the Maldives and updates on the respective partnerships, please visit www.karmanproject.org or contact Hannah Ashford at the details below. 

About the Karman Fellowship 

The Karman Fellowship is a one-year leadership program designed to foster trust, independent dialogue and cooperation between 15 selected Karman Fellows who are below the age of 45 and have achieved outstanding accomplishments in space. Over the course of the Program, Fellows strengthen personal relations, meet with global leaders in technology, science, business, politics and the arts, and take personal commitments to further advance space-related agendas for the betterment of humanity.

About the Karman Project

‍The Karman Project strengthens trust, fosters independent dialogue and encourages cooperation between global leaders in business, technology, politics, science and the arts who want to positively impact space. The Karman Project is a nonprofit and independent foundation headquartered in Germany.

About the Maldives Space Research Organisation

The Maldives Space Research Organisation (MSRO) is the first entity in the Maldives dedicated to the research and development of the space sector. Its current mission is to create a space sector in the Maldives that can help the nation to become more climate resilient, protect its maritime domain, diversify its economy and empower its locals using science and education of space. In 2023, MSRO has already successfully hosted an international delegation for the Goidhoo Earth Observation Pilot (GEOP), exploring the local applications of space technologies to better understand seagrass population changes, coastal erosion, coral bleaching, declining mangrove health and soil composition. It additionally hosted the first Space for Island Nations Conference, engaging global speakers, youth delegates and wide local participation. 

About Six Senses Laamu

Six Senses Laamu is the pre-eminent sustainable resort in the Maldives. It is home to the Maldives Underwater Initiative, an award-winning marine conservation initiative made up of resort marine biologists and three partners, the Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation and the Olive Ridley Project. Six Senses Laamu also has a purpose-built Sea Hub of Environmental Learning in Laamu (SHELL), designed for education and immersive marine conservation experiences. It features a central exhibition space, a marine laboratory, cinema room, and kids’ zone. Virtual and augmented reality technologies and conservation art further enhance the space. The central gallery, also called the Tank, boasts a high-resolution LED display floor and five educational viewing booths. It features diverse underwater scenes of the Laamu atoll to get up close and personal to selected micro-topics about marine life. Six Senses Laamu employs a dedicated team of 12 marine biologists who undertake various conservation and surveying projects. 


Hannah Ashford

Managing Director, The Karman Project

Email: hannah@karmanproject.org

Tel: +61 475 295 168

Annexure: Karman Fellows 2023

1. Norilmi Amilia Ismail, Founder & CEO of SpaceIn (Malaysia)

2. Liang Chen, Deputy Director of Systems Engineering Department, Beijing InterstellarGlory Space Technology Co. Ltd (China)

3. Joan Chesoni, Director of the Board at Kenya Space Agency (Kenya)

4. Emma Gatti, Editor-in-Chief at SpaceWatch.Global (Italy)

5. Jacob Malthouse, Executive Director of Open Lunar Foundation (Canada)

6. Raffaele Mauro, General Partner at Primo Space (Italy)

7. Raycho Raychev, CEO of EnduroSat (Bulgaria)

8. Sara Sabry, Citizen Astronaut, CEO & Founder of Deep Space Initiative (Egypt)

9. Barret Schlegelmilch, CrewMember 7, New Shepard Astronaut Office at Blue Origin (USA)

10. Jenni Sidey-Gibbons, Astronaut at the Canadian Space Agency (Canada)

11. Anastasia Stepanova, Mission Specialist in Mars160, Sirius19 & PhD Candidate at Colorado School of Mines (Russia)

12. Mani Thiru, Head of Space and Satellite Solutions at Amazon Web Services (Australia)

13. Trent Tresch, Founding Director, Biosphere 2 Center for Human Space Exploration at the University of Arizona (USA)

14. Aoife van Linden Tol, FRSA, Artist & Founder of Feral Events Ltd (Ireland)

15. Luis Zea, Senior Program Manager at Sierra Space (Guatemala, USA)


Cooperation in space is a global endeavour achieved together

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