December 16, 2021
Gina Ortiz Jones
Under Secretary, U.S. Air Force
Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt
Commander, Combined Space Force Component Command, U.S. Space Command, Deputy Commander, Space Operations Command, U.S. Space Force
Vice President, Global Space Policy and Government Relations, Astroscale U.S.
Lisa B. Callahan
Vice President, General Manager of Commercial Civil Space, Lockheed Martin Space
The space industry has seen rapid growth in recent years, from NASA projects like Artemis to private sector-led initiatives for consumer space travel.
As the industry expands, space exploration offers a huge opportunity for economic and business growth, especially in partnership with government agencies. During the fourth annual Space Summit from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, industry experts and government leaders discussed current space priorities and the nearly unlimited potential for the future of space exploration.
Multiple Challenges and Opportunities for Investing in National Space Priorities
Gina Ortiz Jones, Under Secretary of the Air Force, has played an instrumental part in the growth of the space industry, by helping Space Force to take great strides over the past two years.
“In those two years… the civil space sector and NASA have flown a helicopter on Mars [and] launched astronauts from U.S. soil, including the Space Force’s own Colonel Mike Hopkins,” said Ortiz Jones.
Along with the advancements seen from Space Force, Ortiz Jones sees potential in partnering the Air Force with industries to innovate and adapt its technical capabilities.
“The success of the Air Force is recognizing … that we have got to invest in the right things,” she said. “We've got to divest from things that are not survivable, not effective, and not relevant in a high-end fight.”
Establishing Global Guidelines to Manage Space Traffic and Orbital Debris
As more companies begin discussing commercial travel to space, the threat of space traffic and orbital debris has become a bigger issue than ever.
“It's no longer just about machines,” said Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt, commander of the Combined Space Force Component Command for the U.S. Space Command. “There are humans at risk here. And so it is really important that we get this traffic management right because it is dangerous for human life.”
With the opportunities for space travel continuing to grow, Charity Weeden, vice president of global space policy and government relations at Astroscale, suggests that clear guidelines should be established and enforced for companies and countries operating in space.
“We need to protect that potential of the future, where space continues to be an element of diplomatic and economic power,” said Weeden. “If the U.S. wants to see norms and guidelines established globally for operators and to influence those, the first thing that should come to mind is looking domestically [at] what is established and effective here, and then hear the same from the international community and build consensus.”
Space-Focused Businesses Need to Scale to Grow the Industry
Peter Beck, Founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, sees a big future for the space industry. The industry is proposed to grow to over $1 trillion by 2030; however, he said, the industry will need to scale to see those numbers.
“The space industry is defined by a number of small companies, often mom and pop companies, that build the most beautiful and exquisite technologies, but there's a real lack of scale there,” Beck explained. “What we're really focused on is trying to bring that scale to the industry so that we can really see the industry grow and reach its full potential.”
“We're putting the hammer down and applying scale to this industry to really, really enable the growth of mega-constellations and lots of other really exciting projects into the space industry,” Beck said of his company.
The ISS Is Increasing Efficiency to Prepare for the Future of Space
The International Space Station (ISS) has grown tremendously over the years, due to its flexibility and willingness to develop partnerships and adopt advancements in technology.
According to Dr. Michelle Parker, vice president and deputy general manager for Boeing Space and Launch, a partnership between Boeing and NASA has successfully led to “23 years of the ISS in orbit, with 21 of them having a consistent crew presence in space.”
“Many young adults today have not known a world where there haven't been humans in space,” Parker said. “[This] sets the foundation and expectations of that generation that we must continue to maintain and further our presence in space.”
As more opportunities and companies are looking to enter space, the ISS has been a guiding light.
“The life cycle of [the] NASA space station now represents a model of how future space stations will develop over time,” Parker said.