Gaining Traction

Since the Institute launched the ASCEND community in 2020, we have talked about how the community and its events will be sharply focused on outcomes. Driving toward outcomes also is part of the fabric in establishing the three AIAA domains – Aeronautics, Aerospace R&D, and Space. We are gaining traction this year on delivering tangible impacts – or outcomes – on behalf of our 30,000 professional and student members, as well as nearly 100 corporate members. This progress is being fueled by incredible AIAA volunteers across technical committees, local sections, forum executive steering committees, and Domain task forces, among others.

In September, we released a reference guide, “Satellite Orbital Safety Best Practices,” to provide a foundation for discussions leading to a global consensus of behaviors for satellite operators. This document represents work begun during 2021 ASCEND when interested parties started talking about how they wanted everyone to work toward a common set of practices to help make low Earth orbit safe for all. This group kept the idea going with Sandy Magnus, Principal, AstroPlanetview, LLC, facilitating the discussions. They studied previous documents and published guidelines from NASA, Secure World Foundation, Space Safety Coalition, and the U.S. Space Force to build upon these specific organizations’ ideas. The group then crafted a list of best practices that aligned with the life span of a satellite, addressing each milestone along the timeline with specific recommendations.

Since publication, nearly 700 members of the ASCEND community, AIAA members, and others across the aerospace community have downloaded the “Satellite Orbital Safety Best Practices” reference guide. The guide was presented during the ASCENDxSpace Traffic Management webinar where the new director of the Office of Space Commerce, Richard DalBello, affirmed the guide’s value, calling it “practical guidance.” The conversation will continue during 2022 ASCEND. The guide is a living document and will be kept current, with other companies and organizations joining the effort. This overall effort including the guide and the ongoing dialogue are the types of outcomes that we believe will make a difference in our community immediately and for the long term.

We also are poised to deliver outcomes based on the AIAA CTO Summit – an incredible gathering of chief technology officers from our Corporate Members. The event was the brainchild of the Corporate Member Strategic Advisory Committee (CMSAC), which is a direct advisor to the AIAA Board of Trustees. The CMSAC introduced the idea during the 2021 AIAA DEFENSE Forum to help us gauge interest, leading to convening CTOs last month. During the summit, we witnessed 29 technology leaders brainstorming and collaborating, to provide more than 50 recommendations or potential initiatives to the Institute across five major themes:

• Coordinating industry standards
• Creating consortiums to address issues like expanded test capacity
• Facilitating targeted advocacy
• Expanding quality supplier identification and access
• Developing the aerospace workforce, especially facilitating immediate access to qualified candidates and creating excitement about the industry

The list of recommendations itself is an incredibly valuable outcome. Our plan is to work through the list with our partner, McKinsey and Company, to prioritize the recommendations and begin the work to turn recommendations into outcomes. We will do this by tapping into the best capabilities across the entire Institute.

Also in the service of developing the aerospace workforce, we are supporting the White House’s new initiative to develop a skilled technical aerospace workforce. The Institute is part of a new coalition committed to working together to ramp up the space industry’s capacity to meet the rising workforce demand in critical areas of manufacturing, maintenance, quality control, and testing. This step will help us deliver outcomes in this area of critical importance, as identified by our Corporate Members and others across the Institute. We will inform our activity with the data in the upcoming report, “2022 Aerospace & Defense Workforce Study,” we are releasing with the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and Ernst & Young LLP. This document represents another outcome due to our obsession with data to drive our efforts. We will be more successful by focusing initiatives where we will have maximum impact.

Our focus on outcomes will continue to build as we see the traction we are gaining. We will continue doing what we do best – leading the community through thought leadership to address important strategic issues and tackle thorny technical challenges by convening, publishing, educating, and advocating. We must move at the pace of innovation. This momentum is essential to delivering on AIAA’s commitment to shaping the future of aerospace.

Learn more about the “Satellite Orbital Safety Best Practices” guide in the “From the Institute” department

Gaining Traction