The Space & Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) have announced the recipients of the seventh annual Better Satellite World Awards.
The awards honor established companies along with disruptive innovators who make the world a more prosperous, healthier, better-educated, sustainable and inclusive home for humankind. An international jury selected Hellas Sat Founder and CEO and humanitarian Christodoulos Protopappas, Speedcast and Willka Yachay’s project to bring satellite connectivity to the Q’eros tribe in Peru and UltiSat’s services for the UN in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to receive this year’s awards. The recipients will be honored at the Better Satellite World Awards Virtual Celebration on December 9 and at a live reception on January 10, 2022, in London.
“In a time of profound disruption and crises at nearly every level of human society, the space and satellite community is providing indispensable support and relief to remediate suffering and to improve and preserve what is best in human culture,” said SSPI Director of Development and Innovation, Louis Zacharilla. “Most important, it is pushing us toward a time when things inevitably will get better.”
The selection of the recipients for the Better Satellite World Awards was made by an international jury that consisted of a broad cross-section of industry thought leaders and distinguished professionals.
Also at the Celebration, the SSPI UK Chapter will present its sixth annual Satellite Personality of the Year Award to Volodymyr Levykin, Founder and CEO of Skyrora for his many contributions both personally and through the company to Edinburgh’s robust and growing satellite industry.
The Better Satellite World Awards Celebration is produced by SSPI and the organization’s UK and Isle of Man Chapters.
The 2021 Better Satellite World Award Recipients:
- Christodoulos Protopappas
Over the course of a more than 25-year career in space and satellite, Christodoulos Protopappas has promoted satellite communications and connectivity across Europe, the Middle East and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. He founded Hellas Sat, the national satellite operator of Greece and Cyprus, in 2001 and has served as its CEO for 20 years. Today, Hellas Sat operates a fleet of three geostationary (GEO) satellites that serve locations across Europe, the Middle East and parts of Africa. The company has been fundamental to the development of the Greek Space Agency and has contributed to Greece’s space infrastructure as a whole, including serving as a facilitator for collaboration between the Agency, academia and local industries. Hellas Sat also provided the first major opportunities for young engineers in the region to work in the area of space and satellite in both Greece and Cyprus. While serving as CEO, Christodoulos founded the company’s Space Centre in Cyprus, which boasts more than 35 large antennas with DTH transmission and other satellite managed services.
Christodoulos has been a dedicated advocate for space and satellite services throughout his career. He served 2 terms as Chairman of the European Satellite Operators Association (ESOA) and a term as Chairman of the Hellenic Space Agency. While serving in these positions, he promoted the protection of satellite spectrum in ITU and proposed the use of satellite internet to bridge the digital divide in Greece, Cyprus, the European Union as a whole and South Africa. Christodoulos even went a step further and provided these proposed connectivity services. Under his direction, Hellas Sat connected 172 rural schools in Albania via satellite internet in 2009, rural schools and hospitals in Greece, 142 rural communities in Cyprus in 2008, several remote rural islands in Greece in 2008 and 2009 and 150 hospitals in Zimbabwe in 2021. Christodoulos has continued to work as an advocate for space while completing these projects, and he was crucial to the Greek government securing Govsatcom services in 2019.
- Speedcast and Willka Yachay
Speedcast has a long history of providing humanitarian aid and NGO connectivity solutions. Recently, the company partnered with the non-profit organization Willka Yachay to provide connectivity to the Q’eros tribe in the Andes Mountains of Peru. The Q’eros are some of the last living descendants of Incan tribes, and they live a difficult, isolated life without access to modern education, health and technology services. In 2010, an American student named Hannah Rae Porst traveled to Peru and spent time living with the Q’eros for a university project. Some time after leaving the mountain community, she founded the Willka Yachay non-profit organization to give back to those who had accepted her and taught her so much during her time in Peru. Willka Yachay raised funds to build and launch a school for the Q’eros, and Hannah moved to Peru to oversee the project. The organization also founded Kidnected World, an NGO dedicated to bringing interactive education to indigenous civilizations throughout South America and Africa.
Speedcast became Kidnected World’s primary partner on the project, providing communications services and advice on solutions needed to best serve such remote communities. The company also donated a year of connectivity service for the charity and deployed Speedcast field engineers to conduct antenna systems installations in the Q’eros community. Thanks to Speedcast’s efforts, quality of life has improved dramatically for the Q’eros in only a few short years. The community is now connected virtually to the rest of the world, allowing students to access virtual learning via video sessions with teachers across the world. When community members fall ill, they can now access online medical information and resources to better treat ailments. Some Q’eros have begun selling traditional hand-woven textiles online, bringing new economic strength to the community and a piece of their unique culture to the rest of Peru. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Speedcast’s robust connectivity services allowed the Q’eros to remain isolated from the disease in their community while still interacting with the rest of the world online and maintaining access to services that have changed their lives so powerfully for the better.
Beginning in June 2021, UltiSat partnered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide satellite communications services in support of the emergency operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC is host to one of the largest internally displaced populations in Africa, with more than 92,000 refugees seeking asylum in its northern region after fleeing post-election conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR). The displacement has placed tremendous strain on the region, prompting the UNHCR’s humanitarian efforts to provide much-needed shelter, food and access to medical services for the refugees and the local population attempting to support them. Coordinating such a huge effort requires reliable communication services, and UltiSat stepped up to offer them.
UltiSat has a long history of supporting humanitarian and disaster relief organizations working on-site by providing satellite network services, equipment, life-cycle operation, installation, maintenance and logistics support. The company leverages its global network capabilities – including in-house engineering and operations for satellite, wireless and terrestrial services – to develop custom-tailored networking solutions for each particular mission. In a region where connectivity is limited to non-existent, UltiSat’s satellite network has provided invaluable in providing UNHCR workers and local coordinators with the information they require to provide protection and aid where it is most needed.
About the Better Satellite World Campaign
Working with partner associations and dozens of supporting companies around the world, Space & Satellite Professionals International’s Better Satellite World campaign is changing the global conversation about satellites and their influence on the economy, business and societies everywhere. The campaign has become a cornerstone and a viral effort that is successfully communicating the incredible power of satellites for human good. SSPI has published a series of stories and videos that dramatize the immense contributions of the “invisible infrastructure” of satellite to life on Earth, which are widely shared by individuals, companies and the media.