The importance of the National Space Symposium, held annually in Colorado Springs, has never been greater since the terrorist attacks on the United States last September. The symposium brings together military minds, defense scientists, and others interested in keeping the United States at the forefront in space science and in protecting the United States from terrorism and further acts of war.
Homeland Defense is a major topic at this year’s symposium, which runs April 8 through April 11 at the Broadmoor Hotel. The 18th annual event covers topics on space-based initiatives, technology and policy, and is considered to be the premier policies and programs forum for space professionals around the world. The National Space Symposium is the only conference in the space industry that fully integrates the civil, national security and commercial space sectors.
“As we prepare for the security challenges of the 21st Century, U.S. Homeland Defense takes on increasing importance. For most of U.S. history, we have been blessed with the security advantage of excellent geography, friendly neighbors and a vast ocean buffer,” said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shortly after the Sept.11 attacks. “But the Cold War, with its threat of missile and bomber strikes against our territory, ended our geographic advantage. The end of the Cold War has not restored it. To the contrary, the proliferation of weapons with increasing range and power into the hands of multiple potential adversaries means that the coming years will see an expansion of the risks to U.S. population centers—as well as those of our allies. We will face new threats—from satchel bombs, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles of varying ranges.”
The agenda includes discussions on space industry challenges and opportunities in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, financing space ventures in a down market, ensuring a robust science program for the International Space Station, and also features a special panel with Chairman Robert Walker and other members of the Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry.
Registration for the symposium sold out early, officials said.
Featured speakers include General Ed Eberhart, Commander in Chief of NORAD (The North American Aerospace Defense Command), Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, the Undersecretary of Commerce of Oceans and Atmosphere, Peter B. Teets, Under Secretary of the Air Force and Director of the National Reconnaissance Office, and futurist Alvin Toffler.
That the event is a only a stone’s throw from NORAD probably is not lost on symposium attendees. NORAD is a military organization formally established in 1958 by Canada and the United States to monitor and defend North American airspace. NORAD monitors and tracks man-made objects in space and detects, validates and warns of attacks against North America by aircraft, missiles or space vehicles. NORAD also provides surveillance and control of the airspace of Canada and the United States.
While the generals and admirals and others of military importance are dealing with protecting the world from terrorists and those that entertain dark ideas of mass destruction, for others there is a more fiduciary function.
These symposium attendees and sponsors are there to sell the latest in defense wares to the military. They include Boeing, Northrup Gruman, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Honeywell, and Pratt and Whitney. Just as lobbyists set up shop in Washington, these vendors sponsor private dinners, closed bars, coffee breaks and invitation only “hospitality events.” The purpose is the same: grab the ear of someone qualified to purchase rocket motors, computer software and other defense-related material.
“For us, it’s a home run,” said Frank Linsalata, Chief Executive Officer of Analytical Graphics, one of the symposium’s vendors. “Everyone at the show is a potential customer for us.”
Analytical Graphics, headquartered near Philadelphia, manufacture a software product that allows users to determine the position, attitude and visibility status of any vehicle on earth or in space.
Along with being a great place to market its products, the symposium serves a critical need in bringing together military experts to develop better ways to protect the United States, Linsalata said.
The symposium annually gives the local economy a shot in the arm, said Terry Sullivan, President of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. This year the symposium could generate $1 million for Colorado Springs. That breaks down to about $700 per attendee.
This year, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, based in Huntsville, Alabama, and the Colorado Springs-based Space Foundation have joined forces so the public can experience what commercial spaceflight might be like four decades from now in the year 2040.
“Starship 2040,” created by the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), contains future space travel technologies and present-day space research and development. The traveling exhibit and exterior theater will be in Colorado during the symposium.
Starship 2040 lets visitors glimpse the technologies behind a high-energy propulsion drive, automated crew and vehicle health monitoring systems, navigational aids, emergency and safety systems and other special features needed by passengers and crew to travel and work in space – all of which are in development today. Together, these technologies comprise the elements necessary to create a new highway to space.
For more information on the exhibit, visit www.Starship2040.com. It will make its first Colorado stop at the University of Colorado in Boulder on April 2-3; then at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on April 4-5; and finally at the Citadel Mall, also in Colorado Springs, on April 6. Tours are free and open to the public and schools.
NASA is the nation’s premier agency for developing reusable launch vehicle technologies. Marshall Space Flight Center is leading this effort, aimed at enabling improvements in the safety, cost and reliability of future space transportation systems.
Because of the nature of the symposium, security will be tight, officials said. For that reason, the symposium is not open to the general public at exhibitor request, said Julie Howell, United States Space Foundation spokesperson. Howell suggests people go to the organization’s website at www.spacesymposium.org, or to call her office at 576-8000 for additional information.