NASA exhibits at the Space Commerce Conference and Exposition. (DWC Photography/SpaceCom)
For most of us, outer space is not on our everyday radar, never mind on the business horizon. The Space Commerce Conference and Exposition (SpaceCom) — the only civilian conference and expo that brings together NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), aerospace, government agencies, and commercial industries — bridges both worlds: space exploration as it relates to business. That is, how space applications can help increase market share, how to use data from satellites to drive commercial markets, and more.
If that sounds a bit “out there,” James Causey, executive director of SpaceCom, can explain. One example: The GPS on everyone’s phones, as well as accessible international televisions stations, are made possible by satellites, Causey told Convene.
“Our entire effort is revolved around helping companies understand how to take advantage of this commercial space environment that’s been created,” he said, “and/or take advantage of the technologies that have been developed by companies that have gone into space, and/or to even take advantage of services that have been created as a result of assets in space.”
Launched in 2014 under a Space Act Agreement with NASA, the annual conference has attracted attendees representing all NASA centers, and industry heavyweights including Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, United Launch Alliance, and MEI Technologies have landed in its exhibit hall.
In 2018, 2,200 attendees from 37 countries representing various sectors of the burgeoning space industry traveled to Houston for SpaceCom. Causey said international attendees were most interested in hearing about the U.S. plans for space exploration on the business front. Participants had the chance to provide feedback on the newly re-established National Space Council, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence.
Keynote speaker Kevin O’Connell, director of the Office of Space Commerce within the U.S. Department of Commerce, “gave a really excellent speech on all of the plans he has to help enable the space community going forward,” Causey said, “and that was very well received.”