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Homepage / From Malaysia to Cranfield, to Washington D.C. – Part Two

From Malaysia to Cranfield, to Washington D.C. – Part Two


Houston we have lift-off.

This story is a continuation from part one where I shared my story as a PhD student at Cranfield University and my recent experience at the International Astronautical Congress 2019 as one of the grantees for the Emerging Space Leader programmes (shout out to the International Astronautical Federation (IAF)).

Studying as a PhD student at Cranfield is unique. Being in the middle of nowhere means there are no distractions! In my opinion, it’s perfect for a PhD researcher. You spend three years focusing on research in a nice green village without the distractions in typical big cities. If you get stressed, there are plenty of trails to help you relax. If you’re in need of a distraction then London, Oxford and Cambridge are only an hour away. My suggestion to prospective students is to get a car as it will make everything easier.

What I found unique about Cranfield is that in this tiny spot, in the middle of the country, you have a diverse group of people from every corner of the world. I always call it a mini-United Nations. It is bizarre to think that such a place exists. In this village you also have world-leading experts on aerospace, manufacturing, energy, water, agriculture, management – the list goes on! That’s what I love about Cranfield University, the tight-knit community of people that are pushing the boundaries of knowledge. It’s at this place that you can have the best discussion or debate and interdisciplinary collaboration that might be difficult in a larger university.

The support from the university is also great. I felt that I received the support I needed to grow, and it has led to being recognised as one of the grantees at on a Emerging Space Leaders (ESL) programmes from the IAF.

The IAF was founded in 1951 when scientists from the field of space research gathered in an attempt to ensure dialogue between the space nations, regardless of the political turmoil. It has since hosted the International Astronautical Congress (IAC). During the space race, it was one of the few places where East could meet West.

If you are in the space industry, then this is the place to be.

It is great to be part of the programme. We had the opportunity to meet with great World Leaders discussing and probing the future of the space industry. I am truly honoured and humbled to have been selected as a grantee for the ESL programme. It is great to stand side-by-side with fellow grantees that have achieved so much in their respective fields. For the rest of the blog, I will share pictures and captions. Hopefully it can give you a flavour of the IAC 2019 and ESL programme!

(Left) 27th United Nation/IAF Workshop on Space Technology for Socio-Economic Benefits. (Right) Simonetta Di Pippo, Director General of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).
Apollo 11 crew honoured with the IAF 2019 World Space Award
(Left) “3G” Diversity Luncheon with the IAF president Dr Jean-Yves Le Gall who is also the president of CNES, the French Space Agency. (Right) Bernard Foing who is also known as the father of SMART-1, a satellite programme that revolutionised the space programme at the European Space Agency (one of my all-time favourite satellites).
(Left) Virgin Galactic spacesuit. (Right) Jeff Bezos awarded the IAF Excellence in Industry Award at the IAC 2019.
IAF ESL 2019 award programme
Presenting BAMMsat research in one of the IAC A2.5 technical sessions


We also had fun with everyone from all corners of the world!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the blog!

Read Part 1 here

Aqeel Shamsul

Written By: Cranfield University

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