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Space Matters: 2022 At a Glance

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

As we enter the New Year, excitement awaits the space industry. With new technology on the horizon and the integration of the commercial space industry into space projects, diverse space topics will remain a point of conversation for those both within and outside of the space industry.

The year 2022 was an opportunity to discuss trending space topics among high-level space professionals. If you didn’t have the chance to attend a Space Matters Session this year, you can review past blogs from each session here.

Space & National Security: What Do We Do?

One of the most prevalent topics from the Space Matters Sessions this past year was the threat to national security. This is a result of a few different factors, including the fact that space activity has not been regulated on a global scale. Despite efforts on behalf of the United States to take action toward regulations, it’s hard to anticipate whether or not other countries, including our adversaries, will also set regulations in place.

SatellitesThere is a major concern about the number of satellites entering low Earth orbit (LEO). While the United States follows satellite regulations from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there isn’t a clear idea of the number of satellites in LEO that have been launched by other countries. There are certainly issues with this; it is a problem that prominent Space Matters contributor James Bridenstine spoke on.

Bridenstine is a former NASA Administrator and U.S. Congressman (R-OK) who today serves as a Senior Advisor for Acorn Growth Companies. He mentioned that the FCC has expressed concern about derelict satellites that might cause collisions in low Earth orbit. His fear lay in the fact that we aren’t sure how many satellites might be derelict, and how rapidly satellites are being launched.

In addition to the fear of rapid satellite launches, national security threats also stem from the possibility of adversaries damaging technology that could impact on-the-ground communications and operations in the United States.

Many of this year’s Space Matters contributors shared that just as space is a domain for exploration and innovation, it is an unregulated war domain. We need to keep national security as a forethought in both our minds and our legislation.

Reigniting The Nation’s Imagination for Space

Although there are concerns about paying attention to national security and potential threats, there is an equal amount of desire and need to reignite America’s passion for space exploration. The year 2022 marked the 50-year-long period since we were last on the moon, during the Apollo 17 mission. At the time, Americans were fascinated by the possibility of space, and space itself was a patriotic part of American society. Former Pennsylvania Congressman and CEO and Founder of Moonwalker Associates, Bob Walker, shared his desire this past year for Americans to once again have the same excitement and imagination toward space.

With a growing length of time without lunar presence, many conversations took place this past year discussing the importance of national support for space activity. Space Matters contributors shared the necessity for lunar presence for a variety of reasons. One is the ability to focus on space projects in 1/6th of Earth’s gravity, which is not something that astronauts onboard the International Space Station can experience.
Apollo 17

The push for lunar presence is motivated by the possibility of working under less strenuous conditions that are experienced on the ISS, such as loss of bone density, increased pressure in the head, and more.

In addition to possibly better conditions for astronauts, the desire for lunar presence is necessary for future space endeavors, including Mars. The launch of Artemis marked a huge feat in space activity and exploration and is an effort that must be made in order to eventually make it to Mars.

Many of this year’s Space Matters contributors felt passionate about Mars, and what it could mean for the United States—“Life, if it is discovered on Mars, ought to be discovered by the United States of America because it will forever add chapters to history books and science books,” Bridenstine said.

Commercialization In Space & Space Funding

Another large conversation held by space professionals this year was in regard to the commercialization of the space industry. We have seen the involvement of commercial companies grow rapidly, and many are curious about the role commercialization plays in the space industry.

Many of Space Matters contributors were very positive about the increase of private companies that are making themselves an integral part of the global space ecosystem. CEO and Founder of BryceTech, Carissa Christensen, shared that with involvement of private companies to help fuel overall space activity, it will spur larger private companies to potentially acquire smaller companies, and so on.

Government and commercial space activity are able to work with each other, not against each other. In fact, speakers like Bridenstine mentioned during a Space Matters session held this past August, that the government will likely always have to be the “first” to do something, in order to create an opportunity for commercial companies to follow.

Another frequently discussed topic this year was the appropriations cycle and its necessity to fuel ongoing and future space activities. Congress’s difficulty with coming to terms with budget appropriations and relying upon continuing resolutions negatively impacted space activity and projects this past year.

2022 was unique; not only were we operating under continuing resolutions, but inflation became an important factor. Patricia Cooper, a prominent Space Matters contributor and President and Founder of Constellation Advisory, shared that out of 46 congressional sessions, three went without continuing resolutions, so they are something we must live with.

We Look Forward to 2023

The past year has served as an amazing opportunity to be excited about what’s going on in space. With successful launches like Artemis, receipt of imagery and insights from the James Webb Space Telescope, more commercial players in space than ever, and a growing desire for STEM education, there is a lot going on surrounding the space industry, and plenty more to be discussed. See upcoming Space Matters events today.

Are you wanting to hear more insights from high-level space professionals? Join us for the annual State of Space event in February, as various space experts will share their diverse viewpoints of space innovation and exploration and address the question, “What is the State of Space in 2023?”