We foster trust, cooperation and independent dialogue'

Between global leaders


Meet the next cohort of leaders who are shaping the future of space

19 May 2023By Hannah Ashford

By Hannah Ashford

The Karman Project announces global space leaders selected for 2023 Fellowship.

Each year, as the Karman Community grows in size, impact and opportunity, we become more conscious of a few truths. Firstly, that dialogue is more important than ever in a world that is becoming both increasingly polarised and susceptible to the impacts of our changing climate. Secondly, that responsible leadership - with true diversity and representation of lived experiences - is key to our collective future. And thirdly, that space is filled with leaders who are aware of these responsibilities; highly motivated to engage, learn and contribute on a human level. We're particularly grateful for that third truth, and we're delighted to introduce you to the 15 leaders who have been awarded Karman Fellowships for 2023. 

Press Release [Berlin, Germany]

The Karman Project has announced the 15 global space leaders selected for the 2023 edition of the highly competitive Karman Fellowship program. 

The Karman Fellowship is the flagship program of the non-profit foundation, which promotes cooperation through action. It works with leaders who are considered to be shaping the future of the space sector, having been recognised for their outstanding accomplishments in space and their motivation to increase their impact for the betterment of the space sector and beyond.

The 15 Fellows of 2023 represent 12 nationalities and six continents, and join a growing network of influential Karman Alumni - including 45 Fellows and over 100 top-shortlisted ‘Karman Pioneers’ from previous promotions - coming from the startup, cultural, venture capital, research, space agency and industry sectors alike. “These are the people shaping the technologies and roadmaps for exploration, education, medicine, climate policy and other time-critical topics for humanity,” said Hannah Ashford, Managing Director of The Karman Project. “How they do it matters.” 

Whether it is setting effective policies to leverage space technologies to impact the everyday lives of citizens on Earth or ensuring peaceful activities on the Moon (Joan Chesoni of the Kenya Space Agency; Jacob Malthouse of the Open Lunar Foundation); providing enabling technologies to space companies, universities, scientists and governments throughout the Asia Pacific (Mani Thiru, Head of Space & Satellite Solutions at Amazon Web Services); defining the future of human spaceflight (Jenni Sidey-Gibbons, Astronaut at the Canadian Space Agency; Barret Schlegelmilch, New Shepard Astronaut Office at Blue Origin) or more, the 2023 Karman Fellows are already creating immeasurable impact in their respective fields, and are looking to leverage the Karman Fellowship to increase that impact for the benefit of humanity. 

The Fellows were selected from over 300 carefully considered candidates from around the world, 50 of whom were presented to the Karman Selection Board for the final decision. The 2023 Selection Board convened virtually on 22nd April 2023 and was curated to consist of 36 highly respected and accomplished professionals, who likewise represent a fine intersection of disciplines, industries and cultures. For the fourth year in a row, the Board was chaired by Mr. Jean-Jacques Dordain, former Director General of the European Space Agency. The list of Selection Board Members was announced via LinkedIn on 21st April 2023 and is accessible here.

The selected Karman Fellows will participate in a program that is designed around three key pillars - Leadership, Dialogue and Action - and will be invited to meet with global leaders, strengthen their relationships with one another and engage in strategic discussions regarding the future of space. The Fellows traverse global issues informed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals that space technologies can contribute to solving, together with challenges that exist within the space sector. As a ‘space-for-impact’ foundation, the Karman Project supports the Fellows in addressing six key Impact Themes: Sustainability, Education, Empowerment, Cooperation, Science and Inspiration. 

The Fellows will have the opportunity to partake in various in-person activities throughout the year, including the annual invite-only Karman Gala Dinner and the Karman Fellowship Week, which is an immersive, interactive and highly unique four-day program in which the leaders are placed within direct proximity of the issues that the space community is collectively working to solve. More details will be released to the public shortly. 

The Karman Project additionally continues to build a strong network of global partners who are equally dedicated to supporting the Karman Fellows and wider community. Partnership activities will commence in July 2023, with The Karman Project set to co-host the third edition of the Smart Space MBA Elective at the University of Oxford, pursuant to their partnership with the University of Oxford’s Space Initiative that was announced in November 2021

The profiles of the 2023 Karman Fellows and the Selection Board Members will be made available via the Karman Project website in late May 2023. 

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.

Annexure: Karman Fellows 2023

  1. Norilmi Amilia Ismail, Founder & CEO of SpaceIn (Malaysia)
  2. Liang Chen, Deputy Director of System Engineering Department, Beijing Interstellar Glory 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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