Excerpts from the First Space Summer School in Tunisia

The inaugural Space Summer School in Tunisia, dubbed “TUNSA 3S,” was pivotal in advancing Tunisia’s space sector development. Organised by the Tunisian Space Association (TUNSA), a non-profit NGO established in 2022 to strengthen the country’s space industry, this event was a collaborative endeavour involving partnerships with Switzerland and Italy. Furthermore, essential support came from the Tunisian Ministry of Education, Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Italian Embassy, e-GEOS and Telespazio, Djagora FabLab, and the EPFL Spacecraft team.

From September 5th to 8th, Sfax in southern Tunisia became the epicentre of space education and innovation as the TUNSA Space Summer School brought together 60 exceptionally talented high school students. These young minds embarked on a fascinating journey into space, diving deep into space technologies, applications, laws, life sciences in space, astrophysics, space medicine and space robotics. However, this wasn’t just an academic exercise but an opportunity for these students to become architects of change.

Cross-section of attendees at the event. Source: TUNSA

During the summer school, the students were tasked with designing a space mission to address pressing environmental challenges in Tunisia and North Africa. The central objective was to raise awareness of climate change’s impact on daily life through satellite imagery. Through this newfound awareness, the students were encouraged to become proactive change agents who can make a difference in the future.

Source: TUNSA
The educational unit developed during the programme. Source: TUNSA

TUNSA extended a grant to two Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) students, Maxime Dargent and Alvaro Martinez Vismanos, who contributed their expertise in small satellite technology to the TUNSA Space Summer School’s scientific program. These students had previously played a pivotal role in the successful Bunny space mission developed by the EPFL Spacecraft Team, launched into space by the Italian space transportation company D-Orbit. Additionally, Aziz Belkhiria, the former president of the EPFL Spacecraft Team, supported the summer school’s activities remotely.

In addition, Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided high-quality satellite imagery, including optical and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data, from the Italian CosmoSkyMed satellite constellation. These images served as valuable educational resources during the summer school. Furthermore, the Italian Embassy facilitated connections between TUNSA and Italian space industry experts from Telespazio. These experts joined the summer school to deliver lectures and workshops on using space technology for socioeconomic and environmental development.

An Inspiring Closing Ceremony

Ahmed El Fadhel, President of TUNSA, expressed his profound commitment to expanding educational opportunities and forging academic partnerships between Tunisia and various international regions. He highlighted his journey from Tunisia to Europe, driven by a passion for space science and technology, emphasising the need to create such opportunities for Tunisian youth. For him, this historic summer school was the realisation of a childhood dream and a testament to the progress made. Still, he also acknowledged a long road ahead for continued growth and success in space exploration and education.

During the closing ceremony, Davis Cook, the CEO of RIIS, delivered a poignant 15-minute speech. His words resonated with the young and brilliant minds present, leaving them with a powerful message of hope and encouragement.

Similarly, representatives from the Swiss Embassy and the Italian Embassy took the stage to deliver inspiring speeches that underscored the profound impact this event holds for the future of space exploration and development in Tunisia.

Through its representative, the Swiss Embassy emphasised the importance of collaboration and knowledge exchange between nations. They highlighted how TUNSA 3S is a beacon of cooperation between Tunisia, Switzerland, and Italy, fostering solid international ties in space education and technology. On the other hand, the Italian Embassy’s representative expressed their enthusiasm for supporting Tunisia’s journey into space and its potential to create positive change. They lauded the commitment of Tunisian students and organisations like TUNSA in pursuing innovative solutions to environmental challenges. The Italian Embassy emphasised how space technology can catalyse socioeconomic development, underscoring the importance of nurturing young talent in Tunisia to drive future space endeavours.

For more information regarding the event, kindly reach out to:

Rihab Ben Moussa 

Space Law Researcher at the faculty of law Tunis El Manar & Head of Strategic Relations at TUNSA

Strategic.relations@Tunsa.org

Ahmed El Fadhel

President of the Tunisian Space Association (TUNSA)

ahmed.elfadhel@tunsa.org