Midlothian Space entrepreneur to produce documentary on sector’s future

Wednesday September 27th 2023

Daniel Smith at World Satellite Business Week 1

Daniel Smith at World Satellite Business Week.


Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

A leading space industry specialist has been named as an Associate Producer on the much-anticipated documentary Fortitude, which explores space as an emerging trillion-dollar industry.

Former Penicuik High School pupil Daniel Smith, who has played a founding role in five space companies to date including the world’s largest space-focused strategic communications firm AstroAgency, will support the upcoming movie ‘Fortitude: Forging The Trillion Dollar Space Economy’, providing connections, promotional support and expert insight into the fast-growing market.

The film comes from award-winning documentarian, Torsten Hoffmann, who experienced critical success with his previous film ‘CRYPTOPIA: Bitcoin, Blockchains and the Future of the Internet’ at international film festivals, on Netflix Europe, Amazon Prime and dozens of global broadcasters.

The pair made the announcement during Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week in Paris, where an exclusive preview of the documentary was shown to conference delegates. The Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA), Dr. Josef Aschbacher, was amongst the VIP attendees on the night during a preview reception that was sponsored by Viasat, Northrop Grumman’s SpaceLogistics and Exolaunch.

Fortitude is a new documentary about the people, perils and promises behind the emerging space industry. It will uncover the myriad of ways that the global commercial space sector is supporting the way millions of us live our lives back on Earth, with interviews with some of the industry’s leading names.

Torsten Interviews renowned Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson along with astronauts, leading venture capitalists, the UK and European Space Agencies and established technology companies such as Voyager Space, Planet Labs, Viasat and Glasgow-based Spire Global, highlighting how a new space age has dawned, and how it can play a key role in the challenges facing our planet.

When asked about his role as a Producer, Smith explained “When setting up AstroAgency our aim was to promote the benefits of the space sector to new audiences and end-users.

“We now work with more than 50 space organisations, as well as multiple national Space Agencies around the world to deliver those messages. What attracted me to this documentary was how well aligned it is with our mission, together with its commitment to transcending the stereotypes that so often surround space activities.

“By highlighting key challenges for the sector to overcome in order to continue its support of the economy, environment and our everyday lives, in particular the importance of space sustainability – reducing the environmental impact that spaceflight has on Earth’s environments and significantly mitigating debris in orbit – I felt the project was something I wanted to get behind in a personal capacity. Meanwhile AstroAgency will be partnering with sponsors and event hosts to bring this inspiring story to as many people as possible.”

Before the preview event, Smith met with ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher to sign ESA’s Statement for a Responsible Space Sector, which intends to increase the contribution of projects led by the space sector to the sustainable development of society and work towards the socially and environmentally responsible management of all activities within the space sector.

AstroAgency was also one of the first signatories to the UK’s Earth and Space Sustainability Initiative, part of the ‘Astra Carta’ plans announced by HRH King Charles III and UK Science Minister George Freeman.

The European Space Agency (ESA) estimates there are currently around 36,500 pieces of space debris greater than 10cm orbiting our planet, and up to 130 million items up to 1cm in diameter. This issue is exacerbated by the prospect of these items travelling up to 15,000mph – or four miles per second – meaning the smallest fragment can cause significant damage to satellites that support the economy, environment and wider society, as well as current and future space stations that house astronauts in orbit.

Filmmaker Hoffmann explained, “This is one of the key chapters of the documentary and we feature several companies that are already working on solutions to address this problem.

Fortitude is currently in post-production and set for release in 2024. “Until then we are excited to preview parts of the film at further space and science events in the coming months before premiering the full feature in theatres and on streaming platforms” added Hoffmann.

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