Science and Technology News

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Space and Missile Systems Center attends 2015 Space Tech Conference and Expo

by James Spellman, Jr.
Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs

7/9/2015 - LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Air Force Space Command and Space and Missile Systems Center leadership joined astronauts, rocket-makers and other space entrepreneurs May 19-21 for the Space Tech Conference and Expo at the Long Beach Convention Center.

Now in its fourth year, the three-day trade show is a business-to-business event for spacecraft, satellite, launch vehicle and space-related technologies. More than 3,500 pre-registered attendees and 200 exhibitors including SMC's Global Positioning Systems Directorate, Remote Sensing Systems Directorate, Advanced Systems and Development Directorate and Office of Small Business Program were out in full force for the opening day session.

The conference and exhibit brings together scientists, engineers, corporate level executives, government agencies and policymakers for conversations on the key challenges and opportunities in civil, military and commercial space, the organizers say.

"The old aerospace era of Rosie the Riveters ratcheting together parts on Boeing assembly lines is gone. The new era of aerospace - one of commercial space flight, 3D printing inside the International Space Station and solar-powered spaceships - is coming fast," explained Gordon McHattie, event director for the Space Tech conference.

According to McHattie, California is still at the heart of the aerospace industry, despite the economic beating and corporate downsizing it has taken since the early 1990's.

"In addition to the Air Force's SMC and federally-funded Aerospace Corporation headquartered in El Segundo, rocket and spacecraft manufacturer SpaceX is in neighboring Hawthorne," said McHattie. "NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is in Pasadena and the Mojave Air and Space Port where XCOR Aerospace and other 'New space' companies including Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic commercial space flight division test its technologies calls the high desert near Edwards Air Force Base home."

With the Air Force's X-37B mission aboard an Atlas V 501 launched on May 20, Col. Douglas Pentecost, SMC's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Systems Division director wound up pinch-hitting for Dr. Claire Leon, SMC's director of Launch Enterprise, who was at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida for the fourth launch of the mini spaceplane during the keynote panel on the launch services market that discussed competition, affordability and mission assurance.

Col. Jeffrey Stutz, SMC's acting director for Advance Systems and Development Directorate, reiterated Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves' key message to attendees that, "we're all in from the ground" during a panel addressing how the U.S. military and government benefit from the dynamic commercial space industry. The session explored key areas in which the military and government could increase collaboration in the space industry, one that will increasingly see private companies taking the lead in space launch and exploration. The panel also provided a realistic assessment of the pros and cons of leveraging next-generation technologies in a timely fashion, given limited budgets and resources, and considering the military and government do not operate on the same time cycles as the commercial world.  

With the second day of the event devoted to the key requirements, technologies and trends impacting the military space arena, SMC and AFSPC personnel took a lead role bringing together senior leaders from the military and commercial space sectors. Speakers and panelists examined how different parts of the Department of Defense can work with commercial partners to deliver required defense capabilities with fewer resources.

Maj. Gen. Terrence Feehan, director of Strategic Plans and Requirements for Air Force Space Command, gave the opening keynote, addressing how the Air Force plans to evolve its space architecture to meet future needs through a combination of evolving current programs, commercial and ally partnerships and dramatic new approaches to fulfill mission requirements.

A panel discussion on SMC's approach to delivering Air Force space requirements with shrinking budgets was led by Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry, SMC vice commander, Joy White, director of Contracting, Thomas Fitzgerald, director of Engineering, and Willard Strozier, director of the Office of Small Business Programs.

Col. Janet Grondin, SMC chief of Spacelift Range and Network System Division, moderated a panel on reducing the cost and improving the performance of ground systems architecture. With more and more satellites and spacecraft being launched, the need for robust ground systems networks to manage them is increasingly important. With every payload requiring different planning and monitoring support, managing the ground network is costly and a key area in which savings are being targeted.

Technological innovation is one of the defining characteristics of the U.S. aerospace industry. With its concentration of private space companies and close proximity to NASA and Air Force facilities, a dedicated conference in southern California provides the perfect meeting place to conduct business in the heartland of cutting-edge, high technology advancement with SMC and AFSPC people on center stage.

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