• Cyprus Space Research and Innovation Centre (C-SpaRC)

    Overview The Cyprus Space Research and Innovation Centre (C-SpaRC) is a pioneering initiative set to establish Cyprus as a leading hub for space research and innovation, addressing the need for a dedicated space infrastructure in Cyprus to support the growing space ecosystem and Cyprus Space Cluster. The project was awarded a competitive grant of €2.5 million in December 2023 under the Research and Innovation Foundation's (RIF) "Strategic Infrastructures/1222" call, with an additional $2 million leveraged funding from NASA. Notably, C-SpaRC has been placed under the auspices of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) as an International Space Innovation Centre, a first-of-its-kind initiative aimed at fostering international collaboration in space research and exploration. C-SpaRC, aligned with the Cyprus Space Strategy (2022-2027), is poised to become a groundbreaking initiative for the nation. Thanks to the strategic vision of the Research and Innovation Foundation (RIF), Cyprus is investing in strategic infrastructures to unlock its vast potential in the space sector. C-SpaRC, a first-of-its-kind project for Cyprus and a significant investment in this strategic infrastructure, will embark on an ambitious journey to foster innovation, drive economic growth, and position Cyprus as a key player in the global space industry. The C-SpaRC project is based on three distinct elements:

    • Infrastructure: The creation of a state-of-the-art space research infrastructure, accessible to both the domestic and regional space ecosystem, fostering research, development, and innovation in space technologies.
    • Research: The conduction of cutting-edge research in collaboration with foreign and domestic partners, focusing on space weather, its impact on human health, and the development of advanced space technologies.
    • Innovation: The promotion of innovation within the domestic space ecosystem and the broader high-tech and startup communities, fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and technological advancement.

    Space Weather, Space Situational Awareness, and C-SpaRC Space weather, the dynamic conditions in space driven by solar activity, poses significant risks to critical infrastructure on Earth and in orbit, including power grids, communication networks, satellites, aviation, and even human health. The ability to predict and mitigate these risks is crucial for the resilience of modern society and the safety of space missions. C-SpaRC aims to address this challenge by developing advanced space weather monitoring and prediction capabilities. C-SpaRC will establish a state-of-the-art Space Weather Space Situational Awareness (SWxSSA) monitoring center, leveraging cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to analyze vast amounts of space weather data. By integrating data from ground-based observatories, satellite missions, and in-situ measurements from CubeSats, C-SpaRC will develop predictive models that can provide early warnings of potentially disruptive space weather events. This will enable stakeholders to take proactive measures to protect critical infrastructure and ensure the safety of astronauts and space assets.

    Infrastructure and Micro-satellite Production C-SpaRC will house a state-of-the-art space rapid prototyping, production, integration, space testing, and space qualifications infrastructure for small space assets, primarily focusing on micro-satellite research and development, production, and services. The infrastructure will include a mission control center, mission data monitoring and storage capabilities, space situational awareness monitoring, computational analytics for mission data and space weather (SWx), and a space experiments testbed for designing micro-satellite payloads.

    The infrastructure includes a full set of equipment for space qualifications (such as a thermal vacuum chamber and a vibration facility), a clean room for systems integration, ground control and communication systems, and an instrument calibration and testing setup.

    Notably, the facility will house a state-of-the-art selective laser melting (SLM) large 3D metal printer, enabling the production of complex and highly optimized space components. Only a handful of these large SLM 3D metal printers exist globally. The SLM 3D metal printer is a cutting-edge additive manufacturing technology to create three-dimensional metallic objects. This technology offers several advantages over traditional manufacturing methods, including greater design freedom, reduced material waste, and the ability to produce complex geometries and lightweight structures. In the context of space research, the SLM 3D metal printer will enable the rapid prototyping and production of customized satellite components, such as antennas, brackets, and structural elements, with optimized performance and reduced weight. This will not only accelerate the development of new space technologies but also contribute to cost reduction and improved sustainability in the space industry and wider industry in rapid prototyping.

    Partnerships and Collaborations C-SpaRC's contractual partners and and collaborators span a diverse range. Foreign Research Organisations (FRO):

    • Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH): A NASA-funded leading institute, TRISH will collaborate on research into the effects of space weather on human health and the development of countermeasures.
    • Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory (SGO): A Finnish leading research institute specializing in SWx science, SGO will contribute its expertise in SWx research and its forecasting.

    Domestic Partners:

    • CYENS Centre of Excellence: A leading research center in Cyprus, CYENS will contribute its expertise in AI and data analytics applied on SWx.
    • Cyprus Institute of Neurology & Genetics: A leading research center in Cyprus specializing in biomedical research, the institute will contribute expertise in human biology and genetics.
    • Space Systems Solutions (S3) Ltd: A Cypriot leading space technology company, S3 will contribute expertise in CubeSat development and systems integration.
    • University of Cyprus: The University of Cyprus will contribute expertise in microelectronics and the development of a CubeSat payload.
    • Aretaeion Hospital: A leading healthcare provider in Cyprus, Aretaeion Hospital will collaborate on research into the effects of space weather on human health on the ground.

    Associate Partners:

    • COSPAR: The Committee on Space Research, the world's leading organisation promoting space research, will provide a platform for international collaboration and knowledge exchange.
    • Lockheed Martin: A global leader in aerospace and defense, Lockheed Martin will provide expertise in space systems engineering and technology.
    • NASA MSFC: The NASA Marshall Space Flight Center will provide the CARLO instrument, expertise, and access to resources for C-SpaRC's research activities.

    Research Focus C-SpaRC's research will primarily focus on space weather, its impact on human biology, and the development of advanced space technologies. The impact of space weather extends beyond astronauts in space and can affect human health on Earth. Solar events and geomagnetic disturbances have been linked to various health issues, including cardiovascular problems, neurological disorders, and mood fluctuations. C-SpaRC will conduct a comprehensive study on these effects, contributing to the development of preventative measures and treatments. Specific research objectives include:

    • Developing AI-powered predictive models for space weather events and their potential impact on Earth's magnetosphere and human health.
    • Studying the effects of space weather on human physiology and psychology, both in space and on Earth.
    • Designing and manufacturing CubeSats equipped with specialized sensors to collect space weather data.
    • Preparing astronauts for long-duration missions by studying the effects of space radiation on human tissues using "organs-on-a-chip" (OoC) technology.

    The knowledge gained from these studies will not only benefit astronauts but will also have downstream applications in personalized medicine. By creating personalized OoC models, researchers can study the unique biology of individuals under various conditions, leading to the development of tailored drugs and medical solutions for a range of health issues, including those related to the sun's impact on human health.

    International Collaboration and the Artemis Program C-SpaRC will actively collaborate with NASA's Artemis program, contributing to the safe return of humans to the Moon and the establishment of lunar bases. The center will leverage its expertise in space weather research and human factors to mitigate the risks associated with long-duration space missions.

    NASA TRISH C-SpaRC will work closely with NASA's Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) to conduct joint research on the impact of space weather on human health. This collaboration will leverage funding from NASA to support the development of "organs-on-a-chip" payloads for future Artemis missions, enabling researchers to study the effects of space radiation on human tissues in a microgravity environment. NASA MSFC and COSPAR Impact NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) is contributing to C-SpaRC's research efforts by providing the Charge Analyzer Responsive to Local Oscillations (CARLO) sensor, a specialized instrument for measuring ionospheric turbulence. This collaboration, facilitated through the COSPAR Impact program, will enable joint research on the correlation between space weather and human health, ultimately contributing to the safe return of humans to the Moon. The research undertaken by C-SpaRC in collaboration with NASA MSFC and TRISH will be conducted within the framework of the center's work packages (WPs), ensuring a coordinated and integrated approach to addressing the challenges of space weather and its impact on human health. COSPAR's Role COSPAR has placed C-SpaRC under its auspices as an International Space Innovation Centre, recognizing its potential to bridge international cooperation in space research. This designation will facilitate collaboration between leading space agencies, research institutions, and industry partners from around the world, fostering a global network dedicated to advancing space exploration and addressing critical challenges facing humanity. Impact C-SpaRC is poised to have a transformative impact on Cyprus and the international space community. By establishing a world-class space research infrastructure, the center will:

    • Stimulate economic growth and diversification in Cyprus by attracting foreign investment and fostering the development of a thriving space industry.
    • Create high-tech job opportunities and attract top talent to the country, reversing brain drain and fostering a vibrant research community.
    • Enhance Cyprus's international reputation and geopolitical standing by positioning the country as a leader in space research and innovation.
    • Contribute to the global effort to address critical challenges facing humanity, such as climate change, resource depletion, and the long-term sustainability of human civilization.