32nd National Space Symposium 2016 Highlights

VACCO CubeSat engineers attended the 32nd National Space Symposium held at the Ball Aerospace Exhibit Center in Colorado Springs from April 11-14. The annual conference brings together international aerospace experts in the private and government sectors. This year, the group of 100 speakers included the Secretary of the Air Force Hon. Deborah Lee James, Amazon.com and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, University of Washington Professor Julianne Dalcanton and Dr. John Grunsfeld of NASA.

On April 11, accomplished professionals such as Boeing vice president John Elbon, astronaut Robert Curbeam, National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) director Kristina Harrington met with new professionals and college students during a mentoring session. Bigelow Aerospace and United Launch Alliance announced a partnership that could lead to the launch of a Bigelow expandable module on the International Space Station by 2020. Also on that day, the U.S. Strategic Command signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates to share space situational awareness data. U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Clinton Crosier signed on behalf of the U.S. Strategic Command and Khalifa Al Romaithi, UAE Space Agency chairman signed for the United Arab Emirates.

On April 12, keynote speakers including Jeff Bezos (founder of Blue Origin and Amazon.com), Gen. John Hyten (head of Air Force Space Command) and Charles Bolden (NASA Administrator) addressed the audience. Orbital ATK, an aerospace manufacturer, announced that it had created a subsidiary named Space Logistics LLC to service satellites in orbit. Raytheon announced that its OCX system passed the first of 3 qualification tests on March 4th. The test was related to the system’s launch and checkout capabilities. The OCX system is also known as the GPS Operational Control Segment and is expected to run the next generation of GPS satellites for the Air Force.

On April 13, Rep. James Bridenstine of Oklahoma discussed the space policy bill titled American Space Renaissance Act that is intended to address commercial and government space issues to keep the US militarily and economically safe. According to a director of DARPA (U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the agency is progressing to phase 2 of its Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) program. The program seeks to launch small and medium sized satellites for less than $5 million.

On April 14, the Space Symposium featured a panel discussion involving key executives from established and start-up launch companies such as SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell, International Launch Services President Kirk Pysher and Arianespace CEO Stephane Israel. Gen. Hyten, the Head of the Air Force Space Command, announced that the Defense Department used the ANGELS (Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment for Local Space) satellite in recent space experiments. The ANGELS satellite was launched in 2014 and assesses how the Defense Department would act in the event of a war in space.

Please click below to see news coverage of the 32nd National Space Symposium from KRDO News Channel 13