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“Space Matters” Session 2 Event Recap: A Space of Collaboration

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

Space Matters invites speakers from different backgrounds in the space community to discuss trending space topics. Space Foundation’s most recent “Space Matters session was held on February 10, 2022. The session, introduced by Symposium 365 Senior Vice President Thomas Dorame, served to:

  • Bring rich and candid discussion with space policy experts
  • Discuss emerging issues and trends across the space community
  • Maintain a routine high-level space policy conversation

This session covered three topics: U.S. space funding, the James Webb Telescope, and acquisitions. The speakers also discussed the relationship between the U.S. and Russia and how we are phasing into a new era of space exploration and development. 

Continuing Resolutions Stall Forward Development

Robert Walker, CEO of Moon Walker Associates and former Chair of the U.S. House of Representatives, Science Committee, and James Bridenstine, the Senior Advisory for Acorn Growth Companies and former NASA Administrator and former U.S. Congressman, opened the  discussions on the continuing resolution standstill in the U.S. Congress. As Congress works to come to a consensus on appropriations funding for different programs, these programs can be at a standstill until a resolution is found. 

Bridenstine warned that there couldn’t be a worse time to delegate appropriations. He also shared how experience working in Congress and now working in the space sector does change the sense of urgency for getting things done. National security was one reason Bridenstine felt the importance of getting appropriations figured out.

“The biggest challenges we face are threats around the globe. As a nation, we must move forward quickly,” Bridenstine stressed.

Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux, Founder and CEO of Global Space Ventures, added that there are real impacts when Congress is in a continuing resolution process. Without moving forward with approved appropriations, certain efforts and projects can be put on hold. 

James Webb Telescope

The James Webb Telescope is a prominent project in space exploration and development. The project, which began in 1996, is huge in the space community, with many people hopeful for the future. The telescope launched on Dec. 25, 2021, and its mission is to do work that the Hubble Space Telescope cannot, such as finding some of the first known galaxies in our universe. 

Carissa Christensen, CEO and Founder of BryceTech, shared her sentiment about the telescope’s impact. “[I hope] it will capture public imagination how Hubble did,” Christensen said. 

She added that even though the telescope has yet to do any significant work, people are still captivated by it. Christensen mentioned that NASA’s Twitter account is ranked among the top 100 accounts worldwide. This growing interest can inspire a new generation to work in the space sector.

Bridenstine added that projects like the James Webb Telescope will inspire physicists of the future. The space ecosystem is growing at a rate we have never seen before. Inspiring people to work toward jobs in the physics world, engineering and other space-related fields is crucial to support the capacity that specific missions and endeavors will require.

Garriott de Cayeux shared that the James Webb Telescope is an example of international collaboration, which can be a critical advantage in the space community. With concern for adversaries and defense, having a sense of camaraderie is a benefit. The James Webb Telescope required the collaboration of 14 countries and 29 states. 

Space Acquisitions

Acquisitions are the process of the U.S. Department of Defense gaining new space systems. The speakers shared the hope for these acquisitions to move quickly.

Garriott de Cayeux shared U.S. Air Force Secretary Kendall’s desire to move faster in space exploration—a sentiment shared by most of the space community. Reasons for this anticipation include the rapid pace of technological development, the success of adversaries’ programs, and the benefits of space exploration to life on Earth.

Christensen noted that acquisitions are exciting for smaller companies. Getting employees trained for the workforce is an integral part of speeding up the acquisition process.

However, the acquisition process can be held up by congressional issues, Bridenstine mentioned. He explained that it is critical to focus on preparedness for wars and to avoid miring the issue in partisan politics.

“These are apolitical, nonpartisan positions. Sometimes candidates focus on issues that interest only one or two senators,” Bridenstine said.

The U.S., Russia, and the International Space Station

The International Space Station (ISS) is one of the most prominent international space projects, and it’s critical to ensure that the U.S. can continue to access its benefits. As per Bridenstine, it is essential for NASA to nurture relationships such as this to keep countries moving forward together.

“It’s impossible not to marvel at the ISS partnership,” Garriott de Cayeux added. 

The ISS launched in 1998 and was finished in 2011. The ISS and James Webb Telescope serve as examples and reminders of the possibilities of international cooperation.

Keep Pace With Space With Symposium 365 Events

Emerging technologies and the constant dynamic of international relationships are just some of the topics that produce conversations among space policy experts. “Space Matters” works to promote this discussion.Symposium 365 provides ongoing education and conversation about important events, people and projects in the space community. In addition to the “Space Matters” series, Symposium 365 produces valuable programs including “State of Space” and “Start Here for Space.” Explore and register for upcoming events here!