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5 things about the upcoming Space Symposium


If you’re attending the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, April 16 through 19, here are some of the highlights to check out at the 34th annual gathering of military brass, business leaders, scientists and engineers.

1. Dream Chaser version “1.5”

Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Dream Chaser test vehicle was on the move this week, traveling under a white tarp, wings off, on a flatbed trailer from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California to its short-term parking spot at The Broadmoor resort, host to the symposium. You won’t be able to miss it, front and center outside the event center’s Broadmoor Hall with history factoids and a selfie station.

This is the vehicle Sierra Nevada has been free-flight testing since 2013, most recently from a helicopter at 12,400 feet in November, when it glided back to the runway at Edwards Air Force Base, California, as expected.

Dream Chaser was originally part of the competition for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA passed over the vehicle for that role but later chose the design to resupply the International Space Station, starting in 2020 if all goes as planned.

“To show that it flew, and put it in the middle of the largest space show in the United States, is our way of saying to our partners, to our friends, ‘Hey, thanks for sticking around and helping us,’” said Mark Sirangelo, the SNC executive vice president in charge of the company’s Space Systems unit and an AIAA fellow.

The vehicle that will be on display is the same one that’s performed all the test flights. It’s been modified to try out autonomous systems for the unmanned cargo variant selected for resupply, so it’s “maybe not a 2.0 version but a 1.5 version,” Sirangelo said. SNC is building the ISS-bound flight vehicle at its Space Systems headquarters in Louisville, Colorado.

2. Holograms and refreshments at a shipping container

Look for the Deloitte Con-Ex, which the company describes as an “experiential” outdoor display, in the parking lot outside the Golden Bee pub. The shipping container will double as a relaxation destination by day and reception spot by night.

The international business services firm plans to light up Colorado-themed 3-D holographic projections at Tuesday night’s reception and space-themed holograms at Wednesday’s. All attendees are invited.

3. Senior speakers

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to address the symposium on the morning of April 16, before the official opening. Pence, who chairs the National Space Council, is expected to make a policy announcement.

“It really underscores how important space is to national prestige, to the economy, to our competitive edge that the White House is taking this so seriously,” said Kevin Cook, vice president of marketing and communications for the Space Foundation, which puts on the symposium.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross is on the agenda to speak Tuesday morning, April 17, followed immediately by NASA’s outgoing Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot.

4. Where to hydrate in a pinch

Ball Aerospace will encourage sustainability by giving away cans of water at its booth, “infinitely” recyclable Ball Corp. aluminum cans, while also promoting its work on next-generation environmental satellites, such as the U.S. Defense Department’s upcoming Weather System Follow-on — Microwave and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s recently launched polar-orbiting Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (now officially renamed NOAA-20), said Debra Facktor, vice president and general manager of strategic operations for Ball Aerospace, another AIAA fellow.

At the same time, she invites conference attendees to strike up a conversation with any one of the 80 to 100 Ball employees who will be at the symposium throughout the week.

“Just come meet our people. Ball has great people and a great culture,” Facktor said. Ball is sponsoring the exhibit center this year.

5. Space Gal, BE-4 engine display, speed mentoring

Author, engineer and host of Fox’s “Xploration Outer Space,” Emily Calandrelli — also a correspondent on Netflix’s “Bill Nye Saves the World” — is the featured speaker at the Space Technology Hall of Fame presentation the night of April 19.

A Blue Origin BE-4 rocket engine will be on display outside The Broadmoor’s Penrose Heritage Museum. Blue Origin is developing the liquid-oxygen and liquefied-natural-gas engine as an option for its New Glenn rockets and United Launch Alliance’s Vulcans.

Speed mentoring prior to the April 16 opening ceremony is a chance for attendees 35 and younger to get one-on-one face time with high-ranking civilian and government professionals.

Related Topics

Commercial SpaceflightHuman SpaceflightSpace ScienceSpacecraft PropulsionUnmanned SpacecraftSpace Symposium

5 things about the upcoming Space Symposium