Record Attendance and New Initiatives at the 2018 AMOS Conference

Oct 3, 2018

Over 840 government, industry and academic attendees at 2018 AMOS Conference.

The 19th annual Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference (AMOS), held on September 11-14, 2018 at the Wailea Beach Resort-Marriott, was the largest in its history. Organized and presented by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), AMOS brought together representatives from government, industry, and academia to discuss the rapid changes in the field of Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Space Traffic Management (STM).
Over 840 attendees representing 23 countries participated in the strong technical program. Keynote speakers, panel discussions, exhibits and poster presentations addressed the growing number of space operators, the move to commercial activities, and the importance of balancing commercial innovation with national security and international relations.
The continued growth in attendance and participating countries at AMOS reflects a growing interest in SSA as new actors—national governments, start-up companies, universities, and non-governmental organizations—become more involved in space activities. The main theme of this year’s SSA Policy Forum was the implications of STM and commercialization in space, including national security, policy challenges, and the regulatory rules needed to ensure safe access to space, safe operation in space, and safe return from space.

“The 2018 AMOS Conference helped to lead the space community towards a more inclusive world,” said Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO. “The program successfully wove together strands of policy panels and technical presentations, fostering an understanding of the interconnection between the two perspectives.”

The Opening Keynote speaker was Major General Stephen Whiting, Commander, 14th Air Force, Air Force Space Command, and Deputy Joint Force Space Component Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.  Whiting applauded the experts at the AMOS Conference for their expertise in the field of SSA and the importance of their contributions. “Industry can innovate without permission,” he said. “Turn your sensors to the sky and discover new problems. Isolate them and solve them individually and use what you learn to help us preserve peace in the space domain.”
Other keynotes for the conference were Kevin O’Connell, the newly appointed Director of the Office of Space Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce; and Richard H. Buenneke, Senior Advisor, Space Policy, U.S. Department of State.  Sei-Joong Kwon, Director General for Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Scientific Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea, provided an international perspective emphasizing bilateral cooperation.

New to the Conference

New to the conference this year, the Journal of the Astronautical Sciences, an archival publication devoted to the technology of space flight, will publish significant technical papers presented at AMOS. Additionally, this year the American Astronautical Society Space Surveillance Technical Committee presented awards for Best Paper and Best Student Paper.
Laura Pirovano, a PhD student at the University of Surrey in Guildford, United Kingdom, was the recipient of the 2018 AMOS Best Student Paper award. Pirovano’s paper deals with “Probabilistic Data Association Based on Intersection of Orbit Sets”. Her winning paper incorporated differential algebra to perform initial orbit determination problems without the use of physical constraints, a highly innovative and efficient approach to this very complex problem. In a surprise move, the Committee also awarded Best Paper to Pirovano, another indication of the outstanding quality of her work.

Nurturing the Next Generation

The inaugural EMER-GEN cohort, mentors and presenters.

MEDB also presented the first annual 2018 EMER-GEN™ program, a joint initiative of the AMOS Conference and the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), for those age 35 and under enthusiastic about careers in space.
SGAC, a global non-governmental, non-profit organization and network, represents university students and young professionals ages 18 to 35 to the United Nations, space agencies, industry, and academia.
MEDB created the two-day program at AMOS with the help of advisors from industry, government, academia and non-governmental organizations. EMER-GEN™ offered mentoring with renowned space specialists drawn from an array of fields related to SSA and STM. Networking with other young leaders, the participants joined in mentoring and professional development sessions, guided discussions on key questions and challenges, and short courses to enhance their effectiveness in a global space environment.

“MEDB is happy to partner with SGAC,” said Wilkins. “From keiki to careers, this new program is designed to support our young professionals in their leadership roles and careers. With SGAC, we share a commitment to employ the creativity and vigor of youth to nurture the next generation of space leaders.”
Clementine Decoopman, Executive Director of the SGAC said, “We in turn are excited to partner with MEDB. We look forward to continuous extension of our network to the next generation of space leaders gathered on Maui, as well as hearing their perspectives on future space industry challenges.”

“Everything about the first annual EMER-GEN™ was extraordinary,” said Victoria Samson, Director, Secure World Foundation and mentor. “There were new ideas and perspectives on SSA and STM policy, and challenges for young professionals and students to grapple with. It forced us all to look at things differently.”

Tom Kubancik, General Manager at L3 Applied Defense Solutions and EMER-GEN mentor, said, “We are about to enter the commercialization and civil habitation phase of man’s space adventure and our young professionals need to take us there and keep us safe. EMER-GEN™ will ensure our thoughts and knowledge pass on to the next generation.”
EMER-GEN offered an opportunity for local young professionals to participate with twelve of the thirty-six cohorts based in Maui. Diana Agdeppa, a young professional working with the telescopes atop Haleakala, said, “Considering the increasing number of spacecraft and satellites being launched into space, and how fast they are moving, it’s becoming more of a priority to predict collisions further ahead in time with accuracy and precision. I took part in a session where we assumed the responsibilities of key people involved in space policy, which allowed me to see a bigger picture regarding SSA and STM. Additionally, I acquired some general knowledge from both of the short courses I took and found out how an Artificial Intelligence-based system may play a key role in SSA and STM.”

AMOS on Maui

The AMOS Conference began in 1999 as an Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL) initiative, executed by the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB). At that time, the focus of the conference was as a users’ conference and to promote the Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing Site (AMOS) which has provided the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) with space situational awareness (SSA) capabilities for over 65 years (since 1951).
Maui has some of the most diverse and highly capable optical telescopes (AEOS), instrumentation (adaptive optics, spectrometers, photometers, radiometers, etc.) and processing capabilities (MHPCC) centralized into one location on the planet earth.
In 2006, MEDB assumed ownership of the AMOS Conference from the Air Force, and proceeded to build upon early success by evaluating and adding elements to the conference that bring value to the SSA Community. In the 12 years since, MEDB’s intent in presenting the AMOS Conference is still to support the Air Force’s mission on Maui which, in turn, supports MEDB’s mission of economic diversification.
The 2019 AMOS Conference, September 17-20,  is expected to be even bigger as it celebrates it’s 20th Anniversary.  For more information and news, please visit