Zsolt Szemerszky

Zsolt Szemerszky – Act responsible

Sustainability is the ability to meet our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own and I believe Monaco has a great potential to make bold and impactful changes. We have the necessary infrastructure and wealth and some of the residents are the most influential people with great entrepreneurial mindset, but…

Many people are bragging about their alleged support of causes, sustainability and education, but when it comes to action, they often find excuses. 

I believe in the principle that an excuse is worse than a mistake. 

I also think that a country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor. Culture is an important part and we need to safeguard it for the future generation. 

The truth is that one doesn’t have to be wealthy to implement positive changes in their surroundings, but one has to have the willingness to take action. Life without actions is nothing because any organism that doesn’t move anymore is dead. 

Being a Monaco resident and thanks to the Living in Monaco magazine, I constantly meet with amazing people, but I also recognise the potential that we waste when it comes to leaving a positive footprint.

As our readers know, since September 2013, the Living in Monaco magazine has been focusing on some of the most inspiring stories and remarkable achievements of residents and Monégasque nationals. With my publishing house, Niche Media, the local community is key for us, therefore, we were more than happy to bring these inspirational people together for regular and unique events, – called the Monaco Residents’ Meeting, – to help them build and further strengthen invaluable relationships.

Last year, I decided to create another direction when I launched the first of its kind Space Conference in the Principality of Monaco, called ELEVATE.

The name, ELEVATE refers to our mindset because we all need to zoom out from our problems to see the greater picture. By elevating our views we can find solutions in life.

Space and innovation are highly important nowadays. In 2022, the Monégasque government also entered into the Space Race with the creation of a Bureau of Space Affairs. However, space and technology are much broader than one could imagine.

This year, in 2023, the ELEVATE Monte-Carlo conference will be hosted at the Grimaldi Forum as a 3-day immersive inspirational event on unity, sustainability and technology that can shape our future.

Among the invited speakers and exhibitors we have ClearSpace, who introduced a world-first mission to remove debris from the Earth’s orbit. It is shocking but we already place over 5,000 non-functional objects around the orbit of our planet.

Humanity’s journey to explore space is threatened by the very debris we’ve left behind. The ClearSpace-1 mission will remove debris and reduce the risk of collision and make space a safer place for future generations.

Throughout space exploration history, the European Space Agency has played a significant role in advancing the global effort to ensure the long-term sustainability of space activities. In 2020, ESA and 8 member states have taken a bold step forward and mandated the first debris removal mission in history to ClearSpace to remove an ESA-owned derelict object from orbit and pave the way toward a new normal.

But before one says it is only about space, I also invited exhibitors to showcase NASA Technology. For example, I am honoured that Hyperion will bring their 2,038 horsepower car to Monte-Carlo.

Unlike any other car, the Hyperion XP-1 is using Space Technology and it has never been presented outside the USA.

Why is this significant? Because when NASA realised that there is water on the Moon, they aimed to develop a rover that can be powered by water. (H2O)

Hyperion developed an all-in-one ‘surf-board’ platform that combines its high-power fuel cell engine module with a revolutionary hydrogen storage technology from NASA that stores more hydrogen in less space than ever before. They also opened the door to a new way of transportation on Earth.

My friend Sibylle Müller also had an amazing find. I was stunned to realise that for the first time in history, humankind can produce food without burdening our home planet. Food out of thin air.

The bioprocess to sustainably revolutionise food production has always been around – now humankind has the knowledge to embrace it. You can experience in real this radical impact on the future of food during the ELEVATE Monte-Carlo Space Conference.

Food production, as we know it, is entirely dependent on land and weather conditions. Protein production is a massively disproportionate squanderer of the Earth’s resources.

In the last century, water use increased at almost twice the rate as the world’s population grew. On average, agriculture accounts for 70% of global freshwater withdrawals. It’s time to enter the era of sustainable food production to liberate our planet from the burdens of agriculture.

And these are just a few examples of the speakers and exhibitors of the upcoming ELEVATE Monte-Carlo Space Conference to strengthen our joint effort towards a sustainable life.

Let’s face it, sustainability is the ability to meet our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. 

Similarly to last year, I decided to host all the interested students of the Principality free of charge during the conference.

In 2022, the conference was a full house with children ranging from 3 to 17 years old. All of them were eager to meet with the invited NASA Astronaut, Colonel Ron Garan.

Having enjoyed an illustrious career that has cemented Colonel Ron Garan’s place as one of the world’s most influential individuals, the iconic father of three is a decorated former NASA astronaut, fighter pilot and test pilot, humanitarian, and social entrepreneur. 

My goal was to bring an authentic voice to the Principality of Monaco which can deliver a renewed sense of awe and wonder, someone who has experienced living in the space station. Many people and future space tourists want to represent this industry but learning from someone like Ron, who has spent 178 days in space, and has accomplished four spacewalks was a special opportunity.

From the thrilling first launch, to what it was like for Ron to step out into space on his very first spacewalk, Ron’s story made the students feel like they are traveling with him on these magical journeys. While they were sitting in awe, the former astronaut described what it felt like when leaving Earth for the very first time or seeing the beauty of our planet from space, which we could never imagine before space travel and exploration existed.

After joining on a 71 million-mile journey from the heart of the Principality, local students enjoyed an exciting and insightful presentation about space and had the chance to ask the former NASA astronaut their most intriguing questions. I was truly impressed with how engaged the students of the International School of Monaco were and the fascinating and sometimes funny questions they had.

On the contrary, the audience questions after the grown-up’s presentation were focused more on the impact of the space industry and exploration on our planet. 

Residents of the Principality of Monaco are keen supporters of environmental impact and technology projects. Some of the biggest space companies were (seed-)funded by Monaco residents, such as the investments to Axiom Space, Space-X, Virgin Galactic, Astrolab and hundreds of other space-tech companies.

This made me think. For me, space travel and research are not just about technology and development, they also represent a humanitarian contribution to life on Earth.

Therefore, ELEVATE 2023 was born with the focus on six different topics to challenge our mindset:

Environmental Impact & Responsibilities

Space Logistics

Unity & Teamwork

Space Exploration & Research

Private Space Travel

Satellite Systems

This groundbreaking event will bring together the brightest minds and innovative leaders in the space industry for three days of inspiring talks, captivating panel discussions, and incredible networking opportunities.

From commercial space exploration to space tourism, from asteroid mining to deep space colonisation, Elevate Space Conference will cover it all.

Environmental Impact & Responsibilities

After his breathtakingly amazing presentation in 2022, I re-invited former NASA astronaut, Ron Garan who will be addressing the evolution of his perspective on humanity. 

The conference will also address the environmental effect of the space industry, including multiple aspects from research, development, technological advancement, and of course space travel.

Ron has spent 178 days in space and has traveled more than 71 million miles during 2,842 orbits of our planet. He flew on both the US space shuttle and the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, where he accomplished four spacewalks. Ron also spent eighteen days at the bottom of the ocean during a research mission held in the world’s only undersea research lab, Aquarius.

We will also have an amazing line of speakers talking about the use of space technology to improve the quality of life on Earth.

Space Logistics

Opening the ELEVATE Monte-Carlo Space Conference back in 2022, I addressed the historical developments of Monaco from its aviation heritage in the early 1900s to the space industry links of the present day. It is widely known that Monaco was a pioneer in the history of the casino industry and the field of sustainability, but it is much less known that Monaco was a key site that attracted numerous innovators of the aviation world.

The Principality has continued its aviation heritage, nowadays focusing on the space industry in terms of micro- and normal satellites, rockets and space rovers.

Having spent 20 years innovating in the field of high-performance electric vehicles on Earth, Monégasque Venturi Group, led by Gildo Pastor is now also applying its knowledge and experience to the challenges of space.

I am fortunate to have known Gildo for many years now. He is a very interesting person and his automotive achievements make him a truly authentic person. For example, in 1995, he set a new world ice speed record of 296.34 km/h with his Bugatti EB110 Supersport. But Gildo is not just a “petrol head”, to be precise he is not even a fan of petrol. Gildo’s company, Venturi Automobile launched the world’s first sports car, powered solely by electricity already in 2004, many years before TESLA.

Looking for new challenges and innovations, Gildo and VENTURI are moving into the space sector.

Since 2001, we have been creating high-performance two- and four-wheel vehicles – and even tracked vehicles – that can operate at -50° C or up to 549 km/h depending on the model. Today, I am putting our expertise and resources in the service of space research, a field where excellence is the norm. I want to fly the Monégasque flag ever higher,” – says Gildo Pastor.

In three years time, the FLEX (Flexible Logistics and Exploration) rover, the result of an international collaboration, will head for the Moon. Astrolab and Venturi Lab work with the Venturi Group’s historic base in Monaco.

Based in Switzerland, Venturi Lab invents, studies, designs, and manufactures mobility solutions capable of handling the extreme environmental conditions found on the Moon and Mars. These solutions will use all types of propulsion compatible with hostile environments.

In developing its technologies, Venturi Lab works very closely with Venturi in Monaco and Venturi North America in Columbus (Ohio, USA) as well as with a 100% American company based in California: Venturi Astrolab. The primary objective of the latter is to build a rover for the forthcoming NASA and SpaceX lunar missions.

The American company SpaceX will be responsible for transporting the rover, which will be the largest and most capable in the history of lunar vehicles. SpaceX will use its Starship launch and landing system to transport FLEX to the lunar surface.

The multi-functional FLEX rover will support human operations, robotic science, exploration, logistics, construction, resource utilisation, and other activities critical to enabling a sustained human presence on the Moon, Mars, and beyond. In the long-term, Venturi Lab also aims to invent technologies that will help to reduce land-based, maritime, and atmospheric pollution.

For humanity to truly live and operate in a sustainable way off Earth, an efficient and economical transportation network needs to be set up all the way from the launch pad to the ultimate outpost. As early as 2026, FLEX – deposited by the Starship launch and landing system on the surface of the moon – will become operational. It will demonstrate its efficiency, viability and capacity to conduct scientific experiments and commercial activities.

NASA and private industry investments will soon make it possible to land hundreds of tons on the Moon and Mars each month. The FLEX rover’s unique commercial potential comes from its novel mobility system architecture, which gives it the ability to pick up and deposit modular payloads in support of human operations, robotic science, exploration, logistics, site survey/preparation, construction, resource utilisation, and other activities critical to a sustained presence on the Moon and beyond. 

I invited VENTURI to exhibit their rovers back in 2022 at the inauguration event of the ELEVATE Space Conference, but back then it was too early for them. So they decided to premier their rover in 2023, first at the Top Marques Show. I hope that our audience can also see it live at the ELEVATE 2023 in Monaco.

On the other hand, we have other space transportation companies confirmed such as D-Orbit which offers a family of solutions to address the needs of the satellites market in terms of launch and deployment, operations on payloads, ground transportation, insurance, and more.

I invited D-Orbit because they are the market leaders in space logistics and transportation, with a track record of space-proven technologies and successful missions. Also, they were one of the first players in the New Space market and are building a space logistics infrastructure.

I am super excited about the presentation of Luca Rossettini, the founder of D-Orbit because in the space industry, sustainability is not only about having a better future: it is about having a future at all. While orbital space is vast, it is still a finite resource that needs to be managed according to principles of sustainability to preserve it for the years ahead.

Unity & Teamwork

This is a very dear topic for me, triggered by my 10-year-old goddaughter.

Faye is 10 years old and one of her best friends is Evgenia, who is Russian. One day when I met her, she was very sad and told me that many people say that Russians are bad people. She was concerned that she would not be able to talk to Evgenia anymore. I saw the deep sadness in her eyes and tried to explain to her that there are many good people all around us, and even in such devastating situations not everyone shares the same views.

I knew that Ron talks about the orbital perspective, which means that from space we don’t see borders, we only see one planet, called Earth. 

I wanted Faye to meet Ron so she could find comfort and inspiration through his messages of unity, as the astronaut explained how different nations can work together in harmony in space for a mutual goal, leaving politics and borders behind.

As Faye always tells me that sharing is caring, when I invited Ron to Monaco, we sent out a message to all the local schools that the children can come for free to meet with a NASA astronaut. The event was a great success and for 2023, I expect around 400 children to meet not just Colonel Ron Garan, but his fellow Astronauts and Space travelers from France, Italy, UK, and the USA. 

The Astronauts will talk about the “orbital perspective”, meaning that from space there are no borders, just one common origin of human beings. Living on a space station, astronauts and cosmonauts of multiple nations are working hand in hand for a common goal.

Looking back at our planet from space fills us with the realization that each and every one of us is riding through the Universe together on this spaceship we call Earth and that we are all in this together.” – Ron Garan, former NASA astronaut.

I also remember the amazing questions from the students, because they were thinking completely differently from the adult participants. For instance, they asked whether a child can travel on a space rocket and how children’s and women’s bodies are affected by long-term space travel. 

They also asked funny questions such as one kid who was interested in the privatisation of the Moon, was wondering whether Elon Musk will buy the Moon.

I truly enjoyed the participation and eagerness to learn from the students. The kids had the opportunity to go back home with a great experience and a photo with a real astronaut. 

I remember, even two months later when I walked in the Condamine area, a kid ran over to me saying that he remembers that I was the one who brought the astronaut to Monaco and said thank you again. These moments made the event priceless and motivated me to continue.

Space Exploration & Research

This topic will be super interesting because we will not only talk about exploration and research but traveling to Mars and space colonisation.

We live in a world where the possibilities are only limited by our imagination and our will to act. We do not have to accept the status quo on our planet. It is possible to eliminate the suffering and conflict in our world: Nothing is Impossible #TheKeyIsWe.” – Ron Garan, former NASA astronaut

One of the presentations that I am super curious about is from an international cultural organisation with headquarters in Italy, which promotes the research and industrial applications connected to the human exploration of Mars and space. They develop technologies to be applied both in the space industry and in other sectors.

Why Mars? Among planetary bodies in our solar system, Mars is singular in that it possesses all the raw materials required to support not only life but a new branch of human civilisation. 

In contrast to the Moon, the Red Planet is rich in carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen, all in biologically readily accessible forms such as carbon dioxide gas, nitrogen gas, water ice, and permafrost.

The project Mars Planet actively engages with small, medium, and big enterprises in research related to Mars exploration, in order to support the creation of a new economy based on human space colonisation. Several organisations and companies all over the world are contributing to this new economy, which will help solve some of the most important economic and technological challenges of today.

The main project of Mars Planet is the construction of a research center called Mars City. This research center will include a Mars Simulation Area, a space dedicated to the development of technologies for robotics, virtual and augmented reality, software engineering, telecommunication, materials, energy and life support systems, as well as to scientific research and education.

The technologies developed at Mars City will support space and Mars human exploration and will offer state-of-the-art solutions to many industrial and non-industrial sectors on Earth.

Private Space Travel

I believe this will be one of the most controversial debate panels of all. Last year, the topic of private space travel ignited a lot of questions with a highly engaged audience participation.

By definition, space tourism is human space travel for recreational purposes, something that is now available for anyone who can afford it. 

Space travel is the total opposite of underwater discovery, a great adventure and a memorable experience that was limited only to astronauts in the past sixty years. Luckily, the technological race reached out to the public sector as well, creating lifetime opportunities for those who have the desire to get a different perspective of our planet.

Talking with representatives of Axiom Space and Space Adventures, we decided to dedicate more time to this topic to talk about some of the concerns, misunderstandings, and benefits of such trips. 

For those who want to travel truly out of space over the Kármán line, and not just for a short amount of time (typically less than 10 minutes), private space travel is the solution. It is also possible to spend days on the International Space Station at a staggering altitude of 422 km (262.2 mi) from the Earth.

Space Adventures is an American space tourism company founded in 1998 by Eric C. Anderson, which offers zero-gravity atmospheric flights with the option to participate in a spacewalk that allows participants to spend up to 1.5 hours outside the space station. 

The level of experience to travel to the ISS is so unique that they even have a returning space traveler who took two separate trips to space. The company’s advisory board included Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, and numerous astronauts and cosmonauts.

Their first client was Dennis Anthony Tito, who reportedly paid 20 million USD to become the first space tourist. Tito participated in Space Adventures’ other programs, including a zero-gravity flight, centrifuge training, and a supersonic jet flight before his space flight.

On June 7, 2019, NASA also announced that starting in 2020, it aims to start allowing private astronauts to go to the International Space Station, with the use of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA’s space travel ticket is planned to be priced at 35,000 USD per day for one astronaut, and an estimated 50 million USD for the ride there and back.

Spending time at the International Space Station is one of the most exciting public human spaceflight programs and it is no wonder that new competitors are joining as well. One of them is Axiom Space, founded in 2016 by Michael T. Suffredini and Kam Ghaffarian with a leadership team largely composed of former NASA employees. Axiom is offering commercial, 10-day missions to the International Space Station and aims to own and operate the world’s first commercial space station in 2024.

Since 2021, SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk also offers alternatives for those who are not so keen to spend their days on the ISS but still want to experience spaceflights. The first of these missions completed with four, only private citizens aboard was about three days long. The Inspiration4 flight reached an orbital altitude of approximately 585 km (364 mi), the highest achieved since STS-103 in 1999 and the fifth-highest Earth orbital human spaceflight overall.

But there is a major criticism over the term “space tourism”, and as we are experiencing a new and exciting era for humans, not everyone is happy with space tourism. 

The study funded by NASA and The Aerospace Corporation in 2010, simulated the impact of 1,000 sub-orbital launches of hybrid rockets from a single location, calculating that this would release a total of 600 tonnes of black carbon into the stratosphere, creating a large-scale environmental disruption. However,  researchers stressed that these results should not be taken as “a precise forecast of the climate response to a specific launch rate of a specific rocket type”.

Many private space travelers had already objected to the term space tourist, and preferred to be called “private astronauts”. They often point out that their role went beyond that of an observer since they also carried out scientific experiments in the course of their journey.

For private space travelers, the official term used by NASA is “Spaceflight participant”, the Russian Federal Space Agency uses the term “Private space travelers”, while the US Federal Aviation Administration awards the title of “Commercial astronaut” to trained crew members of privately funded spacecraft.

It goes without question that the space race of the 1960s is living its renaissance, with more and more participants on the horizon, bringing space closer to all of us. Private space travelers are pioneers and modern-day Columbuses who are discovering the unknown, opening up the way towards something new.

Therefore, I invited multiple private space travelers and astronauts to share their opinions about the topic. It will be an exciting and probably heated debate panel.

ELEVATE Monte-Carlo 2023 will also have a very special immersive exhibition, thanks to Magnopus and NASA as they will bring the magic of space travel to everyone.

Every person on the planet, young and old alike, has wondered about our place in the universe. Well, it is your chance now to take a trip into orbit and experience life on board the International Space Station at the ELEVATE Monte-Carlo Space Conference.

This Immersive VR Experience features realistic and intuitive navigation, where users will feel a sense of weightlessness, similar to what astronauts feel.

Satellite Systems

The final section of the Space Sustainability Conference will focus on something that we all use every day, satellite systems. They are the heart and soul of countless technologies, including GPS navigation, mobile phone, weather forecast, etc.

Earth observation through satellites is an amazing tool, making the Earth accessible for all for a better and safer world. By continuously monitoring the effects of human activity, we will be able to build concrete solutions together.

I was lucky to meet space industry experts who opened my eyes toward utilisations I could never imagine before. For instance, and this is also related to the Principality of Monaco, there are projects where the oceans are monitored through satellites and artificial intelligence.

The technology can detect ocean pollution and impressively, satellites can even identify plastic bottles in the Ocean. Therefore, the local coastguards can identify the polluted areas and collect the trash.

I am sure this will be an impressive presentation where I will have a surprise speaker from the Principality of Monaco.

So, if you are interested in sustainability, please join us. Every purchased ticket helps to create awareness for a better planet. And even more I promise you an immersive and inspirational experience.

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