Colorado Springs - Space-industry managers and worker bees from the space industry are set to spend three days at the historic Broadmoor Hotel here this week, trying to sort out where the industry is and where it's going in the face of dramatic policy shifts and continuing economic uncertainty.
A record 9,000 participants have signed up for the 26th National Space Symposium, and some 140 companies will be displaying their goods and services in the exhibition halls. Organized by the National Space Foundation, the annual event has long been an important information and business marketplace for civilian, commercial and military space leaders.
This year's speakers include NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who has the unenviable task of trying to sell the turnabout Obama administration space policy to an extremely skeptical Congress (and NASA workforce); Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn, III; Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security; Bruce Carlson, director of the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, and Gen. Robert Kehler, Air Force Space Command chief.
Also on the agenda is Wang Wenbao, director general of the China Manned Space Engineering Office, and Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut, who opened their country's human-spaceflight facilities to a Space Foundation delegation in an unprecedented visit last fall.
Exhibits will include mockups of the Dragon and Cygnus capsules under development by SpaceX and Orbital Sciences, respectively, that NASA hopes will replace the space shuttle as a commercial route to the International Space Station for cargo and, eventually, crews. Both companies will brief attendees on the status of their efforts.
Also coming up is release of the foundation's annual space report, which finds the worldwide space economy hit $261.6 billion in 2009, despite the global recession and continuing financial uncertainty. Overall, the foundation's analysts have tracked growth of almost 40% in government space budgets and commercial revenue from space in the five years they have been tracking them.
"While other industries struggled dramatically over the past year, the space industry defied the upheaval and broadened its fields of endeavor," says Elliot Pulham, the foundation CEO. "This is due, in large part, to the space industry's growing array of products and services and its increasing globalization."