Joint meeting – Aeronautical Society of Mauritius (AeSM) and Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) (2018 )
New viewers of the AeSM website (http://aesm.mu) may be interested to learn that there is a well-established Aeronautical Society of Mauritius within these shores, formed in 2013 and having a membership roll of 50 who come from all areas of Aviation in the island. In a junior section there are also an equal number of young aeronautics followers who are secondary school students and ready to secure our aeronautical future.
The Society enjoys a close relationship with the world-spanning Royal Aeronautical Society and holds a Joint Meeting with the iconic RAeS annually. This year Air Mauritius hosted President of the RAeS Sir Stephen Dalton and Lady Anne Dalton, making this the 4th such visit under the terms of the MoU which the two societies had signed in April 2015. Our two aeronautical visitors were met by Captain Dick Twomey, President of the Aeronautical Society of Mauritius and invited later the same day to the residence of the British High Commissioner for Mauritius to be welcomed by Mr Keith Allan and Mrs Marja Allan. The following day the President of the Royal Aeronautical Society met the Chairman of Air Mauritius Dr Arjoon Suddhoo at the national carrier’s headquarters in Port Louis, and also visited the Operations and Maintenance facilities at the SSR International Airport.
Other visits were made to the Maritime Air Squadron (the Mauritius Coastguard) at the invitation of Commander Anshul Sharma; the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre (Director Dr Aman Maulloo)); and to the Mauritius Research Council where the MRC space satellite team explained their pioneering work in designing and building Mauritius’ first Micro satellite.
A main event of the Joint Meeting of the two Societies is traditionally a Presentation* given by the President of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and this year Sir Stephen described the latest developments in Space to an intense group of scientists, members and friends of AeSM, laying stress on the urgent need for International legislation and control of the thousands of satellites and even pieces of space debris that are currently in Low Earth Orbit. Space, he said, offered great opportunities, and it was for each nation to plan its place in future space business.
Before leaving Mauritius Sir Stephen and Lady Anne were invited to State House to meet His Excellency Mr Barlen Vyapoory, the Acting President of the Republic. This was an opportunity to share views on the Conservation of Wildlife, which is a strong interest of Mauritius and also the island of Jersey, where Sir Stephen and Lady Anne live, and where Sir Stephen Dalton holds the position of Governor.
Summary of Sir Stephen Dalton’s Speech (by Dick Twomey)
Business in Space:
This week we challenge entrepreneurs to get involved in “Space” with a summary of a Presentation given on the 25th April by the President of the Royal Aeronautical Society, Air Chief Marshall of the Royal Air Force Sir Stephen Dalton, speaking to an intense group of aeronauts, engineers and scientists in Mauritius.
PRESIDENT JOHN KENNEDY SET THE GOALS in 1961 when he famously called on Americans “to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth”. Such an ambition sounded like science fiction then, but 8 years later Neil Armstrong and USA’s NASA had done it! Since that time the pace of change has accelerated, with dramatic developments in technology and enormous advances in our human knowledge. I ask if we are ready for the future?
NEEDS AND POSSIBILITIES: As has happened so often in human history, new activities very often occur before a regulatory framework has been properly developed. This is now the case with Space…and remember how badly we have dealt with the management of our own countries, our oceans and the air that surrounds us. Space was until recently the purview of only a few large and rich countries , but now many nations are capable of putting objects into Space. It is a routine activity, and Space has become everyone’s business. You can even, if you are wealthy enough, book a space-tourist flight for a date in the near future. Virgin Galactica and Space-X are two leading examples of private companies offering exactly such opportunities. Note that Space exploration and usage is now longer reserved solely for governments. This can only be good, in that commercialization of new opportunities fuels economic development.
REGULATION: What the whole world now urgently needs is the development of clear and enforceable international regulations and safe operating practices, not an easy task to achieve. I cannot tell you how many objects are orbiting the Earth today, but the number certainly runs into thousands, some active and useful and others just debris from end-of-life or damaged probes and satellites. Rubbish is in fact becoming a pressing challenge in that there are literally thousands of pieces of space-debris up there, including one hammer that someone on a spacewalk let slip, and of course Elon Musk’s red Tesla car! Collision and damage avoidance by pieces of metal and even (because of high impact speeds) by items as small as a flake of paint requires urgent attention. Most recently you will have been aware of a portion of a space probe that had ceased to be commercially useful and fell to earth, happily (and only by luck) without causing any material damage. Whether we like it or not we need strong International agreements. So far space vehicles have been put into an equatorial orientation, but several companies are ready with plans to put satellites into polar orbit, which will only serve to increase the (admittedly still small) possibility of collisions.
THE COST of launching satellites and probes is coming down dramatically due to the use of launch vehicles of specific and different design. They have customers knocking at their doors asking for launch slots and payloads available. New launch systems will be able to take off and land from a relatively standard airfield and will be capable of operations just as if they were FEDEX or UPS or DHL. We need to control this new traffic literally within the next 18 months, because “the train has already left the station and is running at the speed of a Japanese Bullet Train”! What is in it for space nations? UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly called drones) are already showing us the way in the Earth’s atmosphere, and in Space even more is possible. Moving in an orbit 40 miles high or more, capabilities only increase: Post-natural-disaster control and recovery, monitoring of the oceans, crowd control and all kinds of data-collecting are examples. Large TV companies already pay big bills in order to transmit around the world, and with the capability to launch swarms of micro-satellites in one launch the price is coming down rapidly. What was recently unbelievable is already happening, and people like Richard Branson and Elon Musk have already achieved fantastic things. In the same way as the founding fathers of my own Royal Aeronautical Society did 153 years ago (long before the Wright Brothers’ successful first controlled powered flight in a heavier-than-air machine) we must plan ahead for developments in Space that are already unstoppable. Nobody can now put the genie back in the bottle! So many times in history society has not been ready for what science has identified as being possible, and if we continue like this we run the risk of being unprepared for what engineers have made practical and what entrepreneurs are ready to back as potential commercial winners. In my own home of Jersey, an island smaller than Mauritius, I can tell you that there is a determination to take advantage of the opportunities that commercial Space developments have to offer. It is good (and I have learned this only lately) that Mauritius has also opened that door with the design and construction of a micro-satellite. Richard Branson once said that “Space is Virgin territory”, but Space is universal and we all need to decide on and plan our part in the business growth that is to come.
About Sir Dalton
Air Chief Marshall Dalton was until recently the Chief of the Air Staff or, in layman’s terms, the Head of the Royal Air Force.
For Football fans, Leicester is his native city! After graduating in Aeronautical Engineering at Bath University in 1976 he joined the RAF and was soon training as a Jaguar pilot, when the Jaguar was the Air Force’s newest plane. He was subsequently tasked with monitoring operations in Irak and in due course became the Commander British Forces based in Riyadh. On his return to England he was given command of the RAF’s Jaguar Force, appointed a Station Commander and then became Director of Operations in the Ministry of Defence. A year later Stephen was promoted to Air Vice- Marshall, then in 2004 Controller Aircraft, a post that carried with it a place on the Air Force Board. Not long after this, in 2009, he was appointed Air Chief Marshall and then Chief of the Air Staff… and higher than this you cannot go!
When the University of Leicester conferred on him the title of Doctor of Laws in 2011, Stephen was already “Sir Stephen”, having been knighted in 2009 by the Queen.
Sir Stephen is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and also holds the distinguished position of Lieutenant Governor of the Island of Jersey.