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Space executives optimistic for 2019 despite stagnation and layoffs

WASHINGTON – Despite a recent wave of layoffs and a five-week government deadlock, companies remain optimistic about the overall outlook for the space industry next year.

During a panel discussion organized here by the Space Foundation 30, senior executives from companies ranging from start-ups to established satellite operators talked about the state of the industry and their belief that they would work for a lot in the near future faster growth is ready.

"This is an extraordinary time". said Courtney Stadd, director of government affairs for small vehicle vehicle company Vector. He cited comments recently made by General Jay Raymond, chief of the Air Force Space Command. He called the current period a turning point for the industry. "I think what we will see in 201

9 is a convergence of technologies, low costs, market changes, etc.," said Stadd.

However, the year did not start well for the industry. After a five-week government shutdown that ended on January 25, all major activities of NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communications Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, all agencies involved in civilian or commercial space activities, were stopped , 19659002] The panelists confirmed that the shutdown had hurt them. "We felt a bit," said Andrew Rush, president and chief executive of Made In Space, a company developing on-orbit manufacturing technologies on the International Space Station. He said the company, which has a lot to do with NASA, had a capital reserve that it could rely on.

After the shutdown was at least temporarily stopped, "we put our foot back on the pedal, but we do not hit it to the ground."

At other companies, the shutdown delayed communications and launch licenses. "If you've come to a standstill in the government, things that take a long time take even longer," said Rebecca Cowen-Hirsch, Vice President of Inmarsat.

a notice of the proposed rulebook for revised take-off rules aimed at rationalizing the entire approval process. The draft of these rules should be published by the FAA on 1 February. "The jury is not sure what side effects the closure will have," he said.

In the first weeks of 2019, there were also several companies announcing layoffs, including SpaceX, Stratolaunch and Virgin Galactic. However, the panelists did not see these layoffs as a sign of a downturn in the space industry.

"I do not think this is a signal," said Allen Herbert, vice president of business development and strategy at NanoRacks. "I think the market is still dynamic. We hire people. "

" In every industry, there are different types of skills that are required, cyclical, "Cowen-Hirsch said. "I think what we see in space is prioritization."

However, respondents said that some markets may be too much even for a growing space industry. During a Q & A session, a viewer asked about the prospects for asteroid mining as two companies, Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources, were recently acquired.

"For asteroid mining or space resource utilization, it's even more important to be very disciplined as you approach the business model and if this is the right time," Rush said. He argued that the work his company is doing to make activities in Earth's lower orbits more sustainable can stimulate the demand for space resources in the future.

"It's a sign of health in our community that people are looking beyond the horizon" in markets like asteroid mining, Stadd said. However, he added: "There is often a tendency to confuse technical opportunities with market opportunities."

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