Watch LIVE—Dr. Hassan A. Hassan Distinguished Lecture with Dr. John Olds

The Commercial U.S. Space Industry – Boom or Bust?

At the dawn of the space age, enterprising American businesses dreamed of ways to use outer space as a means to make a profit. Pioneering investments in the early 1960’s by AT&T eventually lead to a thriving telecommunications industry in geostationary orbit. However, faced with increased pressure from terrestrial data networks and undersea cables, the GEOcomm industry is currently declining. The much-ballyhooed suborbital space tourism market has failed to materialize, now marking 15 years since a Paul Allen-backed team won the Ansari X-Prize. NASA is actively encouraging the U.S. industry to create sustainable business models on the International Space Station and future LEO orbital platforms. Crew and cargo delivery systems to the ISS are heavily subsidized by US taxpayers. Are there really growth business models in LEO? Are deep space asteroids really the gold mines of the solar system? Or is all this just wishful thinking from the pro-space entrepreneurial crowd? Dr. John Olds will explore the case for the commercial space industry and provide evidence for both sides of the debate. Is the commercial space industry in the U.S. a boom or a bust? Do the ego-driven investments of a few U.S. billionaires really amount to proof of a sustainable commercial market in space? Or are NASA and the DoD still providing the only markets worth addressing for truly profit-minded organizations? Has the investment community grown weary of the hype and claims of riches from space? Or are we at the dawn of a new golden space age for commercial companies?