Your Ideas Matter. We’re Listening.
By Rob Meyerson|November 2020
Unprecedented year. That is a phrase I have heard many times this year. It goes beyond the pandemic-induced struggles surrounding health, the economy, and education. It also includes immense divisiveness in our nation, and that polarization is on the rise. In short, it is a trying time. No question.
Despite the fear, uncertainty, and restlessness, however, the space economy has continued to not only grow, it is gaining unforeseen momentum.
The proof is all around us. Private investments into remote sensing, space transportation, and technology continue to be strong. In May, we witnessed history as SpaceX’s Dragon capsule ferried two astronauts to the International Space Station, opening a new era where U.S. astronauts are once again launched from American soil. NASA’s Artemis program has kickstarted the industry with numerous hardware and technology development initiatives designed for a return to the moon, this time to stay.
New contract awards to companies like Axiom Space and Made in Space, combined with new cargo and crew transportation services, are starting to open low Earth orbit to commerce. National security space programs are driving advancement with new satellite and launch capabilities. And a new branch of the Armed Forces, the U.S. Space Force, now exists to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and to provide unique space capabilities.
While there is much to celebrate, this is not a time to rest on our laurels. To continue this high level of productivity and momentum into the future will be a tall agenda. That is what makes ASCEND, in my thinking, such a critical and timely event.
In just a few days, our community will gather to discuss the most audacious mission in the history of humankind – creating an off-world future. ASCEND is not like traditional aerospace conferences. It is about building and sustaining a vital platform committed to communication, collaboration, and forward progress.
In early 2019, we called upon some of the most creative leaders in our industry to serve as our guiding coalition. Each jumped at the chance to help us shape the ASCEND concept into reality. There was unanimous consent on one key differentiator – this will not be a traditional event with one-way conversations, it will be collaborative and intentional.
You will also see other fundamental differences. Participants will include collaborators from adjacent industries such as mining, infrastructure, construction, pharma, telecom, hospitality, and entertainment. To achieve a trillion-dollar space economy, we need to create new $100 billion markets. We won’t get there talking amongst ourselves. Participants from adjacent industries will bring ideas, prospects, and challenges that we can collaborate on to build the future.
ASCEND is designed to be outcomes-focused. It is not enough just to share ideas. ASCEND goes beyond this stage. It is a living, ongoing, dynamic platform designed to carry ideas through to execution.
For example, in July, ASCEND used NASA’s Sustained Plan for Lunar Exploration and Development as the impetus for a one-day event entitled “Economically Viable Lunar Settlements.” A traditional panel session was followed by smaller group breakouts to identify technology gaps and economic considerations for creating such a lunar establishment.
Following the workshop, a group of volunteers developed a proceedings report, which now serves as an actionable blueprint for government and industry leaders to use as a reference for guiding future actions. This paper (www.ascend.events/ensuring-economically-viable-lunar-settlements) is available on the ASCEND website, and I strongly encourage you to take a look and share it with your colleagues.
As another example, ASCEND partnered with organizations – the National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society – to create a series of webinars focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the aerospace workforce and share their unique perspectives. The recording (www.ascend.events/news/ascendxwebinar-dei-pt2) and key takeaways are available as a resource to you for building a more equitable culture.
The timing could not be better. New leaders and elected officials around the world will need to be consistently informed about the tremendous importance of the global space economy, science, cislunar and deep space exploration, and what it means to the future of humanity.
Ideas and collaborations birthed at ASCEND can make a difference, but it is not possible without you. You decide what interests you have and what role to take. We encourage you to participate and invite creative minds from adjacent industries to engage in this platform. As the dialogue evolves, you tell us what conversations and collaborations you want to see happen. Talk to us. We want to know.
The space industry is on a dynamic trajectory. How fast and how far we progress depends on all of us as we collectively broaden involvement, participation in, and utilization of space. So meet us at ASCEND and bring your ideas. Become a part of this living, breathing platform for progress. We’re listening.
ASCEND Event Producer
CEO of Delalune Space
Former President of Blue Origin
For more information, visit www.ascend.events