Minoo Rathnasabapathy and Elena Cirkovic Selected for AIAA ASCEND Space Traffic Management Diverse Dozen




Space Enabled members Dr. Minoo Rathnasabapathy and Dr. Elena Cirkovic  were recently named to AIAA's ASCEND Space Traffic Management Diverse Dozen.  The ASCEND Space Traffic Management Diverse Dozen, or D12,  is the brainchild of astrodynamicist Moriba Jah, associate professor of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas, and also Affiliated Researcher with Space Enabled.

The inaugural cohort of the Space Traffic Management Diverse Dozen was introduced at 2020 ASCEND. Influential thinkers and emerging leaders from around the globe were featured in a series of rapid-fire lightning talks that highlighted the most important issues surrounding safety, security, and sustainability in the context of space traffic. Powered by AIAA, ASCEND was launched in 2020 to Accelerate Space Commerce, Exploration, and New Discovery.

“The mission of D12 is centered on the belief that we’re more similar than we are different, and action is best when born from compassion,” said Jah. “We want to attract people whose intellectual and emotional commitment to keeping the off-world environment free of debris knows no bounds.”

The 2021 D12 class will advance understanding of evidence-based strategies and methods to make space traffic management more transparent and predictable, and to hold decision makers accountable for the impact of their activities in space. D12 finalists will each author an opinion essay and deliver a thought-leadership presentation of their vision for space traffic management during the in-person component of 2021 ASCEND, taking place 15–17 November at Caesars Forum in Las Vegas. They’ll also participate in the review and selection of the succeeding cohort next summer.


Minoo Rathnasabapathy

Dr. Minoo Rathnasabapathy is a Research Engineer within the Space Enabled research group at the MIT Media Lab. In this role, she helps coordinate projects in collaboration with international development organizations, national governments and entrepreneurial companies to apply space technology in support of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. She also leads efforts in designing and developing the Space Sustainability Rating (SSR) in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the European Space Agency.

Prior to joining Space Enabled, Dr. Rathnasabapathy served as the Executive Director of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), a global non-governmental organization which acts in support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, based in Vienna, Austria. Dr. Rathnasabapathy was responsible for leading the operations, business development, strategy, and policy output for SGAC, a network that represents over 10,000 university students and young professionals in 110+ countries. Dr. Rathnasabapathy earned her PhD in Aerospace Engineering from RMIT University, researching the impact dynamics of novel materials used in aerospace structures. 

Dr. Rathnasabapathy serves as a Vice President on the Bureau of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Space Technology,  and serves as an advisory board member to Via Satellite, and the Swarovski OnexOne Conscious Design Initiative Program. 


Elena Cirkovic

Dr. Elena Cirkovic is a researcher at the Helsinki Institute for Sustainability Studies (HELSUS). Her project is currently funded by Arctic Avenue funding scheme. She has been an affiliated researcher with the MIT Media Lab Space Enabled research group, where has been applying different angles of her research to collaborative work and publications.

Dr. Cirkovic has been researching issues related to space traffic management in relation to the Earth System and climate change at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights (ECI). Dr. Cirkovic’s research project “Anthropocentrism and Sustainability of the Earth System and Outer Space (ANTARES)” aims to connect Earth System and Outer Space with the application of complex systems approaches, Interaction Between Private and Public International Law in outer space.

She is also a fellow at the Law and Theory Lab at the University of Westminster, directed by Professor Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos. As part of a forthcoming journal symposium with in Anthropocenes, convened by Prof. Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos. Dr. Cirkovic has worked in the publication and artwork "A creature in the making: CyborgE".

Related Content