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Space Commerce Workshop

Remarks as prepared.

Good morning! On behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce Boulder Labs and NIST, welcome to beautiful Boulder, Colorado. Thank you all for coming to participate in this important discussion on how the U.S. can ensure its economic future in space commerce, and to advance commercially important space technologies. 

I’d especially like to thank the organizers of this symposium from NIST, NOAA, NTIA, the DOC Office of Space Commerce and CU. Thanks to each of you for your efforts and dedication to put this program together. Also, an extra special thanks to CU for hosting the reception we’ll have following the workshop.  Let’s give our organizing committee and hosts a round of applause!

The Department of Defense currently tracks over 20,000 objects in space. That number will dramatically increase through innovation in sensing and tracking capabilities, as well as through increased commercial activity in space.  

Just two weeks ago, a near miss was reported between two satellites. This incident highlights the need for better space traffic management and for the deployment of advanced technologies. National Space Traffic Management Policy 3, issued on June 18, 2018, details the development of a new approach to space traffic management that addresses current and future operational risks.  

To date, there have been several workshops focused on policy and partnerships in support of this policy, including the Space Enterprise Summit hosted by the Office of Space Commerce in June. The workshop today adds an additional facet focusing on the technology barriers, solutions and standards needed to accelerate commercial space activity.  

Considering our topic, it’s appropriate that we’re here in Boulder. According to the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Colorado represents the nation’s second largest aerospace economy. 

The state has more than 400 space-related companies, and leading universities, including several with nationally ranked aerospace programs. There are four space-related military commands, and multiple world-renowned research laboratories. The Department of Commerce genuinely views Colorado as a national hub for space commerce. 

Today’s event includes more than 150 participants representing more than 50 organizations from across industry, academia, nonprofit and government. Your participation helps to demonstrate the strong, collaborative private-public partnerships that flourish here in Colorado and across the nation that keep the American aerospace economy strong.  

As we begin our program, I’d like to recognize several key participants with us today. 

I’d like to thank Jackie Keshian, of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, for joining us. She currently serves as policy adviser handling space issues and legislative affairs and is the co-chair of the Space Weather Operations, Research, and Mitigation Interagency Working Group, under the National Science and Technology Council. Jackie, we’re grateful that you are here to participate in the conversation today.

I’m also delighted to welcome to this important program Bobby Braun, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Colorado Boulder; Steven Gonzalez, technology transfer strategist at the NASA Johnson Space Center; and Michele Gaudreault, deputy chief scientist, Air Force Space Command.

We’re so pleased to have with us today: Ryan Hanson from the Office of U.S. Senator Cory Gardner; Annie Oatman-Gardner from the Office of U.S. Senator Michael F. Bennet; and Jeremy Eyman from the Office of U.S. Congressman Ed Perlmutter.

And now, it is my distinct honor to introduce our first speaker, Kevin O’Connell, director of the DOC Office of Space Commerce. As head of this relatively new office, Mr. O’Connell serves as an advocate for the American space industry within the executive branch. 

He has over 35 years of experience in government and research organizations and as an entrepreneur and business leader. Prior to joining the Commerce Department, he served as CEO of Innovative Analytics and Training, a Washington, D.C., professional services company focused on helping U.S. government and commercials clients be more effective through analysis and data-driven decision making. 

He’s also written extensively on the commercialization of remote sensing and has a strong background in national security and intelligence through his work with DOD, the State Department, the National Security Council, the RAND Corporation, and the Office of the Vice President. 

Please join me in welcoming Kevin O’Connell.  

Created September 17, 2019