1st SPACE Retreat – January 2013 – Tenerife, Canary Islands

On 8th January 2013, I arrived in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, to take part in the 1st SPACE Retreat. It took me a couple of hours to find myself in the Tropical Park in Callao Salvaje where the 1st SPACE Retreat would be hosted.  Upon arrival I had a warm welcome by Virgiliu Pop, my friend from Romanian Space Agency (ROSA). Soon afterwards I was directed to my apartment, with a nice balcony view of El Teide and canarian landscape, where I would be staying through 22nd of January with 1st SPACE Retreat. Organized by Scientific Preparatory Academy for Cosmic Explorers (SPACE), whose goal is to help build a space-faring population in the long run, 1st SPACE Retreat brought vivid personalities, related to the realm of space, from different parts of the world, together to a single panel.

The following is an account or more or less a report that I’ve made including my experience at numerous sessions delivered by various speakers and presenters, including myself at unconventional unconference-styled 1st SPACE Retreat. It is noteworthy that each participant had their own session that reflected their background and area or interest or expertise with the idea that everyone is sharing and learning from each other at the same time, and they ranged from university undergraduates, scientists, to trans-humanists. In addition to these sessions, 2 or 3 of which took place daily, there was also a day dedicated with a visit to the observatory of El Teide including a tour among mountains and to the north part of the island to see the volcanic serenity of this young island and to feel the difference of the climate.

View from the Balcony with El Teide

View from the Balcony with El Teide

A big thank should go out to the organizers of the 1st SPACE Retreat in their untiring efforts to bring it to such an amazing reality with a great casual-styled conference with a rich content which of course relies in the selection of individuals who took part.

Below is a list of participants in the order of their presentations along with their counties of affiliation.

  • Ryan Haughey – Canada/ US
  • Dr. David Hyland – US
  • Virgiliu Pop – Romania
  • Roy Tucker – US
  • Philippe van Nedervelde – Belgium
  • Megan Heard – US
  • Hyerim Kim – Korea/ US
  • Amanda Shayle – UK
  • Iulia Jivanescu – Romania
  • Ina Martins – Germany/ Switzerland
  • Alan Pritchard – Britain/ Sweden
  • Erik Unger – Austria
  • Shen Ge – China/ US
  • Antoine van de Ven – The Netherlands
  • Dragos Bratasanu – Romania
  • Prasanna Deshapriya – Sri Lanka

Photo Jan 11, 13 08 08

Canary skies – evening 8th Jan

What a start for the 1st SPACE Retreat! It couldn’t have been better than finding yourself gazing at the Canary skies just next to the beach, in the volcanic sand to start a retreat. Upon the fall of the evening, organizers took the initiative of introducing the participants to each other using rather an amusing way, which was to mixing up the name tag cards so everyone has someone else’s card and the participants were led to the Callao Salvaje beach, located just 200 meters away from the accommodation for a session of sky observation. One of the participants, Roy Tucker, who was one of the co-discoverers of the asteroid Apophis, as well as one of the associates of SPACE, gave everybody an insight into the sky observation while star-gazing was still going on. An experienced veteran observer, he himself was, Roy shared useful tips and some of his stories, making it interesting. The location was quite a fine place for observation apart from some city lights and patrolling lights in the shore which were irresistible.

Casual Introduction and Informal Start

Let it be formal or informal, the start of the proceedings of the presentation sessions of 1st SPACE Retreat officially or unofficially commenced in the morning of 9th January 2013 at Tropical Park, Callao Salvaje.  The introduction was very casual and informal as stated by Virgiliu Pop, one of the organizers, reflecting the nature of the retreat itself. This was followed by a brief introduction by everyone present, giving a bit of an idea of the backgrounds they’re from and what they expect to learn from 1st SPACE Retreat. Next was a briefing delivered by Shen Ge from US, who was one of the organizers as well. Shen gave some insights on the SPACE, its objectives and how SPACE would help create a space-faring civilization.

Interplanetary Spacecraft Design – Ryan Haughey

The first presentation of the 1st SPACE Retreat started with the session of Ryan Haughey, a Canadian student currently in his undergraduate career at TAMU (Texas A&M University) in US. His presentation was inspired by the Interplanetary Spacecraft Design course that he had been following at TAMU under the guidance of Dr. David Hyland. In fact Megan Heard, another participant of the 1st SPACE Retreat, also was a part of same course and she was later due to present on life support systems for such spacecraft.

Ryan during his presentation

Ryan during his presentation

Ryan started off with a background to the course where he explained that how he, Megan along with a group of students carried out research and designed a model for an interplanetary spacecraft with a crew of 12 people onboard making a voyage with the duration of 2-3 years. It was presented that the spacecraft would be characteristic to a torus, in order to satisfy various requirements as well as to keep the coreolis forces effective. While the presentation was in progress, many questions were also raised on the grounds of financing such a project, issues associated with microgravity and life support systems.

Plan for Human Habitation of Solar System – Dr. David Hyland

On the same day in the evening was the skype-delivered presentation of Dr. David Hyland, on ‘Plan for Human Habitation of Solar System’. However the delivery of the lecture was not at its best due to the poor internet connection prevalent. Nevertheless it was an interesting topic of discussion.

At the very initial outset of his presentation Dr. Hyland raised the question of whether humanity can spread itself beyond Earth in the solar system only using either the technologies available today or those of which are at a final stage of development. He started off with the idea of creating a sort of a ‘garage’ of reusable reentry vehicles in a Low Earth Orbit (LEO), so as to make it economically feasible for more maneuvers back and forth between outside and Earth. He also talked about bootstrapping to the stars and adaptation of Habitation Technology. Dr. Hyland also mentioned about the orbiting bolas, which are based on 2 segments of a torus, in order to facilitate the habitation as well as to cater to some other purposes including space tourism, which could indirectly bring about more revenue to boost the project.

Dr. Hyland during his skype-delivered presentation

Dr. Hyland during his skype-delivered presentation

The content in its entirety was very rich and convincing that space habitation is possible with the implementation of the plan, explained.


Following the presentation of Dr. Hyland the reception of 1st SPACE Retreat took place later in the evening. After having the dinner, it was a fine chance for all the participants to discover more about each other and share some stories whilst tasting some great wine and sangria with an authenticity native to the Canary islands. That part of the evening was such a fine gastronomic adventure, again kudos to the organizers!

Legal Considerations on Asteroid Exploitation and Deflection – Virgiliu Pop

On the 10th January 2013, the proceedings of 1st SPACE Retreat continued with the presentation of Virgiliu Pop, a Romanian Space Lawyer from Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) who also happened to be one of the organizers. The topic itself was very interesting as it touched  in detail some of the legal aspects of how the space law works when it comes to manipulation of asteroids for mining or other miscellaneous purposes.

Intriguing questions such as how one could own an asteroid were brought out and discussed. Virgiliu mentioned that although one could claim the ownership of an asteroid, the asteroid would not necessarily become a property of them. He said that you need to have your own spacecraft landed on it, in order to make tele-presence prior to claiming for the ownership.

Virgiliu also referred to the Sagan’s Dilemma, which states that if one has the capability to protect the Earth from an asteroid, he has the same capacity to have an asteroid destroy the Earth. This should also be taken into consideration when trying to deflect an asteroid for a tiny bit of a mistake would result otherwise.

Economical and Sociological Aspects of Space Habitation – Roy Tucker

The session after the lunch was more of discussion as Roy Tucker, one of the SPACE associates from USA was conducting this informal session on how to achieve space habitation. The discussion was more or less woven around the areas of financing, technology and being ambitious about achieving space habitats.

Financing the fuel, the need of introducing more economical resources plus enhancing the space tourism were the initial areas of the discussion. Contemplations of space sporting possibilities and more exotic adventure tourism in space seemed quite profitable when it came to generating more revenue for space exploration.

Moving on with the discussion Roy identified 3 main technologies that could change space exploration and habitation. Rotovators, Telepresence and Digital Immortality were brought forward by Roy and rather philosophical and interesting dialogues followed especially on the area of digital immorality which could lead to ambiguous thoughts for someone. Roy also expressed his interest and some insights about his calculations done with regards to utilization of Rotovators.

Trip to the observatory of El Teide

Being one of the larger volcanic islands among other sister canary islands, Tenerife hosts a variety of flora all over the volcanic soil. The north and south parts of the island were distinctive with their own patters of mini-climates while the tropical weather along with the canary palm trees provided an overwhelming escapade for many Europeans just at the cost of a single flight even at the middle of freezing winter.  Enough boasting, let’s get back to the 1st SPACE Retreat as 11th January was the day dedicated to a tour across the island with a visit to the observatory located in the mountains in close proximity to the summit of El Teide.

As you gain altitude getting close to the observatory you will notice the premature terrain composed mainly of young lava. In fact one could argue that the beaches in the Tenerife looks like the surface of the moon, whereas the surface of the terrain in the mountains resembles Martian terrain quite interestingly, this would beyond any doubt be a major observation to anyone.

Shen, at Solar Observation

Shen, at Solar Observation

A guided tour was offered by the management of the Teide Observatory once the 1st SPACE Retreat participants got in there. The tour featured closer visits to Solar & Nocturnal Telescopes as well as Radio Telescopes used for cosmic microwave background astronomy, located at the facility. Additionally the tour featured also a presentation on optics and capacities of the observatory inside a small auditorium located in the premises.

At El Teide Observatory

At El Teide Observatory

The trip was then headed to the northern part of the island, arriving in a town called La Laguna, where the lunch time stop was made. The lunch was then followed by touristic stuff and return was made back to the Tropical Park in Callao Salvaje with a highway along the coast.

Spacesteading by Avatars & Uploads – Philippe van Nedervelde

Futurist and trans-humanist Philippe van Nedervelde was the morning speaker on 12th January. Philippe represented manifold backgrounds and on this particular session he wore the hat of the director International Development of 2045 Interactive. Having been an amateur astronomer since his childhood Philippe had got himself with various science projects and later he founded his company E-Spaces.  He had built-up a caliber more in the lines of virtual reality and got interested about trans-humanism.

Philippe’s overview of 2045 Interactive was interesting as he explained with ideas of basing political parties in each country to come up with a national science policy to support life extension and cybernetic immortality and also about Immortality Corporation that would advocate for the rich to sell immortality.

Further the milestones of 2045 Interactive – coming up with an advanced avatar with 4 phases were mentioned. Philippe went on to explain how each stage of such an avatar differentiates from others in the process of achieving this seemingly impossible breakthrough with so-called Avatars A,B, C & D. There was also a dialogue about how the security measures will be implemented, for a theft of identity would be a huge vulnerability at that point of life.

Interplanetary Spacecraft Design: Life Support – Megan Heard

Megan Heard, an undergraduate from the (Texas A&M University) in US, was the next speaker following the lunch. Her presentation was based on life support systems for interplanetary spacecraft design, which is really a vital component in a space faring community. Her presentation was based on the Interplanetary Spacecraft Design course she followed at TAMU along with Ryan Haughey another participant of the 1st SPACE Retreat and her research too was implemented with the guidance of Dr. David Hyland. Since the need of long-duration space voyages is increasing, the requirement of integrating the spacecraft with a reliable life support system is crucial. This is an area where one should try novel concepts as the traditional systems for oxygen supply are not adequate for such longer voyages. Megan introduced an algae based solution as a means of producing oxygen and as per her data it seemed to be quite impressive.

Ikaria! Yes, that famous Greek island. It’s now that Ikaria comes into the picture. The daily diet of the astronauts will be based on the typical diet native to the islanders of Ikaria. For those of you who don’t know, Ikaria is thought to be the place where people have the highest longevity. As per Megan, a glass of wine will also be allocated for an individual per a day.

In this human colony, the growth of the plant will depend on aeroponics and Megan explained how effective the results have thus far proven to yield a better harvest also taking into account the effects of microgravity. She also remarked on the supply of the LED light at a healthy rate for the optimal growth of the plants.  Furthermore she emphasized on an effective wastage management system with a focus on recycling both liquid and solid waste accordingly to meet the other requirement of the mini-colony.

Space Mission Design – Super Highway – Hyerim Kim

Hyerim Kim, one of the associates of SPACE as well as a PhD student also at TAMU, originally from Korea, presented on Super Highway, in terms of Space Mission Design as the final session of the day. She started off with the Lagrange’s three-body solution and expanded on how various trajectories could be employed in order to reduce the thrust and enable space voyages with almost no energy input.

Hyerim said that at the moment researches are underway to map such trajectories, for the know-how of such paths would drastically solve the fuel problems.

Hunting for Asteroids – Roy Tucker

One of the co-discoverers of the controversial Apophis asteroid, Roy Tucker was the presenter for the morning of 13th January, making his second presentation in the 1st SPACE Retreat, this time focusing on the topic of “Hunting for Asteroids”. Roy is affiliated to Goodricke-Pigott observatory and he talked in detail about the asteroid nomenclature and how one can suggest a name for an asteroid upon discovery. It was also emphasized that it’s only after verifying the orbit of an asteroid precisely, that it gets assigned a number.

Roy went on to mention that how time-consuming and laborious it had been to search for potential asteroids through CCD photography back in the days when the technology was not as better as it is today. Further the concept of absolute magnitude of asteroid was also introduced during his presentation. He also revealed that it is more likely to spot asteroids when they’re at opposition, for they become brighter due to the retro-reflection with no shadows. Searchers carried out from outer space would eliminate the sky-glow and other miscellaneous effects due to the turbulences in the atmosphere. However one should not forget that it costs 10,000 times more at the same time to do so.

A discussion of how holistic therapies such as acupuncture, believed to enhance physiological homeostasis, are of value to a space faring population – Amanda Shayle

Amanda Shayle from UK was the next presenter with emphasis on the curative means of acupuncture especially for those who go into space. She discussed about the important role our cellular network plays and how the intercellular communication behaves when processing and interpreting the information. In addition to acupuncture, Amanda talked also about herbal medicinal practices and Tai-Chi, which have ancient Chinese roots. She identified cosmic radiation, gravity and nutritional deficiency as factors affecting the astronauts, getting mid and long term exposure in space.


Amanda, during her presentation

Amanda, during her presentation

Amanda mentioned the works of Dr. May Wan Ho making the content of the presentation richer and she ended up performing practical acupuncture with some of the voluntary participants, letting them have a real feeling what it is like to be when you are needled technically as per the acupuncture methodology.

Amanda Shayle at her practical acupuncture session at the end of the presentation

Amanda Shayle at her practical acupuncture session at the end of the presentation

Space Systems as Critical Infrastructure – Iulia Jivanescu

The proceedings of 1st SPACE Retreat resumed in the morning of 14th January with yet another interesting session. Iulia Jivanescu from Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) had her session dedicated to critical nature of space systems when it comes to the level of infrastructure. She is already working on a 4-phase project with a budget of 500k EUR with duration of 3 years and she expressed her experience working in this very project drafted by her, herself. Satellites, ground stations, link, launchers, legislative administration, etc were identified as fundamentals of the critical infrastructure. Iulia mentioned that the hijack attempt of the Curiosity rover and the importance of preventing such potential situations, emphasizing the associated critical nature.

She introduced some parameters, being scalability, redundancy, substitution, population effected, to define the critical infrastructure. Furthermore the usage of nano-satellites was also discussed, taking into consideration the reliability, affordability and easiness in the event of de-orbiting.


Transformation UFO – The cosmic heritage of eastern European avant-guards – Ina Martins

Art-historian Ina Martins, a German PhD student from University of Bern, Switzerland presented about legacies of eastern European avant-guards back in the dates and the kind of aesthetic influence and inspiration they could bring about. She explained about the Dragan Zivadinov’s interesting project to be continued sequentially through 2015, 2025, 2035 followed by the final 2045, which will be the ultimatum.

Ina talked about Kazimr Malevich, Julius Koller and their involvement in inculcating vivid ideas in society with regards to UFO, which stands here for Universal Futurological-cosmological Operation. The topic was very curious and interesting for it was something different from the ordinary. Moving on, she further added about the meteorite El Taco (1965), which had an interesting story of being bisected and shared between USA and Argentina and the fact that the 2 pieces being re-assembled in Germany for an exhibition later on.

Additionally it is noteworthy that Cultural Center of European Space Technologies was opened lately in September 2012 in Vitanje, Slovenia.

Following the Ina’s presentation was a brief press interview for the local newspaper.

Bringing Space Down to Earth – Alan Pritchard

Stockholm based British entrepreneur, Alan Pritchard started his presentation on the 15th morning, with the holistic ideology with attempts to minimize the sensual gap between space and earth, thus bringing space down to earth. His focuses were Spaceship Earth, Spacestreading, In situ solar power, Humanexus, Spaceports & Shuttles, etc.

He talked about “Homesteading from Triton to Teide”, Technomadism, Bootstrapping & Robustness in the domain of Spacesteading. Going on with In situ solar power, Alan mentioned about Silicon input for electricity, solar-electric and solar-thermal power. The Swedish invention of UV water purifier and Zambikes – bamboo cycling were his other examples. From antagonism to synergy was his idea behind the Humanexus and before finishing, he also talked about the Lagrange Points with reference to Spaceports and Shuttles.

Aerospace Software- Erik Unger

The autodidact software developer Erik Unger from Vienna, Austria took it up with his presentation, based on aerospace software. With a comprehensive 15-year old experience Erik has emerged to produce high quality 3D animations with various other applications on the niche field. He showcased his works with animation world.

Then he talked about his project with podcopters which could lift average-weight stuff and transport airborne.  Planes Paspartout is another project Erik is involved with relation to stratostropic balloons, which is due its first test launch in April. Archimedes is the name of another project he handles with German Mars Society and Universitat der Bundeswehr Munchen and it’s about a ballute (balloon + parachute). Erik also talked about his plans to start Space & Science Park for children and public with long-term remarks.

Asteroid Mining Concepts – Shen Ge

As the 16th January marked yet another interesting day at 1st SPACE Retreat, Shen Ge, one of the co-organizers of 1st SPACE Retreat, from USA presented about asteroid mining concepts with focus on economic value of what can be harnessed from an asteroid with precautionary plans. He started off with a graphical chart illustrating the financial value of both terrestrial and asteroid resources. He went on to say that the resources could be in the forms of carbonaceous, silicate or metallic which could be yielded. Shen also mentioned that potential candidate asteroids can be lured into temporary/ stable earth orbits using gravity assists as per the Hohmann transfer.

Superluminal Interstellar Travel without causality violations driven by antimatter – Antoine van de Ven

The Dutch physicist Antoine van de Ven expressed his theoretical work around the possibility of creating a warp drive, driven by negative energy. He introduced a new inequality with advanced physics solutions to justify his idea. The videos narrated by Morgan Freeman were interesting, as he mixed them in between his presentation.

If his theories would prove in practical application, it would be a major breakthrough in science. Antoine also supplied a solution to the Fermi paradox by suggesting the idea of ‘The Meeting Point’

Space Spinoff – Dragos Bratasanu

17th January – Dragos Bratasanu from Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) pointed out that behind many failures in the domain of space & aerospace technologies, etc and there is more to talk about rather than the obviously-thought-about technical fault.  He went on to analyze the Columbia Shuttle disaster and showed that it was the pressure of the administration on the engineers to speed-up the project that has majorly contributed to the technical fault thereby making the engineers stressed-out and pressurized. He also pointed about the preliminary faults associated with the mirrors of the Hubble Telescope that cost a great deal of money and time to fix after it was sent out into the orbit. Aircraft accident in Tenerife North airport, Fukushima Daichi explosion in 2011 and Titanic ship disaster were some other classic examples he brought out.

Dragos also talked about possible mind models for genius and studying various human personalities to better understand about it.

Space Tourism – Prasanna Deshapriya

The final presentation of the 1st SPACE Retreat was delivered on Space Tourism, by Prasanna Deshapriya, a physics undergraduate from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. The topic itself had developed into a well talked-about subject, especially with many endeavors carried out by various enterprises and companies to send people to space as tourists. It was mentioned how the expansion of the space tourism took place, starting with the first space tourist American-Italian Dennis Tito and 6 other space tourists followed.

During my presentation on Space Tourism

During my presentation on Space Tourism

However Deshapriya remarked that the flights to space taking tourists have now been halted due to the   Soviet Royuz spacecrafts being unavailable to take people aboard to the International Space Station. However companies like Virgin Galactic are almost at the dawn of a new phase of the space tourism with more than 500 people signed up already and are in the waiting list in their program. Deshapriya went on to say how the introduction of X-prize was crucial in abolishing the monopoly in the space industry and that the latest models of spacecrafts are due to take over the industry soon. He also talked about legal aspects, economic potential and environmental concerns associated with space tourism.

 Radio Interview

It might be interesting to notice that there were 2 radio-interviews broadcasts aired on local radio about 1st SPACE Retreat. One broadcast was live conducted in English while other was a recording in Spanish for a later broadcast, as facilitated by the local government of Adeje.

Some other interesting snaps !

Sunset from Callao Salvaje next to the island La Gomera

Sunset from Callao Salvaje next to the island La Gomera

Lunar resemblances upon Canary beach

Lunar resemblances upon Canary beach

At Callao Salvaje beach

At Callao Salvaje beach

Watching sunset !

Watching sunset !

Another story with sunset

Another story with sunset


Casual Talks by the cafeteria of the pool

Casual Talks by the cafeteria of the pool

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