Commercial space leaders convene at Texas A&M on state’s role in emerging space economy

October 4, 2013
| By: Aubrey Bloom

The Space Engineering Research Center (SERC), the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University and the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) hosted the Texas Commercial Space Workshop at Rudder Tower and Memorial Student Center Oct. 2 to discuss the development of commercial space operations in Texas and their impact on the state's economic prosperity, amid space company representatives, investors, aerospace experts, faculty and students from around the nation.

"The purpose of this workshop was to engage participants representing a broad cross-section of constituencies across Texas to determine the needs and visions of commercial space companies," said Charles Hill, SERC director. "Until this point in history, the operations of spacecraft and humans in space have primarily been the purview of government organizations. Instead, a wide array of new space initiatives sponsored by private companies are emerging and, along with them, bringing a large boost to the Texas economy."

The workshop's panel discussions consisted of representatives from XCOR Aerospace, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), Blue Origin, Deep Space Industries, Silicon Valley Space Center, NanoRacks and Space Services Inc. Discussion focused on the acceleration of commercial space activities inside Texas, ways to facilitate the growing industry and a statewide effort to establish commercial space as part of Texas' economic sphere.

"The legislature's last two sessions actively opened the door to commercial space in Texas," said Andrew Nelson, COO of XCOR Aerospace. "It is this sort of leader that will continue to attract companies like XCOR."

Keynote speakers included Rep. John Davis from District 129 of the Texas House of Representatives and Dr. S. Alan Stern, a planetary scientist, space program executive and President and CEO of The Golden Spike Company, a commercial space corporation planning human lunar expeditions.

Rep. Davis said, "We should be constantly working to entice new commercial space companies to come to Texas and to incentivize those already here to grow their existing businesses. Recognizing that this is the direction the industry is headed, the legislature has taken some preliminary steps to help ensure that Texas remains a leader in the commercial space industry."

Hill concluded, "Ongoing changes to government space programs coupled with the emergence of entrepreneur-driven commercial space programs indicates that there will be a significantly different space industry a decade from now. This is only the first of many events we will be facilitating for Texas to help those who are passionate about the commercial space industry and to also position Texas as 'home to commercial space' and at the forefront of the industry."

About the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES)
As an engineering research agency of Texas, TEES conducts research to provide practical answers to critical state and national needs. TEES partners with academic institutions, governmental agencies, industries and communities to solve problems to help improve the quality of life, promote economic development and enhance the educational systems of Texas.

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