Sep 8, 2011

Upcoming MIT/Stanford VLAB event to Discuss Commercial Space

This weeks guest blog post, on the commercialisation of space exploration is from a our friend Ted Manning the Co-Chair for Space Events over at MIT/Stanford VLAB
The MIT/Stanford Venture Lab team will be holding a star-studded panel discussion on the commercialisation of the space industry and the entrepreneurial possibilities on September 20, 2011 at Stanford University. Book before midnight Friday (9/9/11) there's the possibility of grabbing a ticket for the discounted price of $30. For more details read on or register now at 

Commercial Space -- What's the Next Step?
The final flight of NASA’s space shuttle program, just concluded with the return of Atlantis, marks the end of an era. It is a milepost in the transition of space exploration from the realm of governments to that of private enterprise. Indeed, NASA now wishes the task of transporting its astronauts to low earth orbit--to such destinations as the International Space Station (ISS)--to be handed over such commercial outfits as SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, and Blue Origin. This way NASA will be able to focus more on “real exploration” deep into the solar system.

But the future of commercial space is not one-dimensional, to be limited to a service for government space needs. Granted, there always was a space market for large commercial interests, mainly for telecommunications, but the barriers to entry have always been monumental. Today, a shift in government policy, technology, and simply a critical mass by those seeking the new opportunities is underway that will ease space access and may make smaller private space concerns ever more possible.

The grand promises of space are well known: from low earth orbit any part of the planet can accessed from above for communications, earth imaging, and unlimited energy production. The weightlessness experienced in orbit has long been understood as one key to the development of exotic materials and pharmaceuticals. And space is the ultimate destination for humans, for the unbeatable view and unmatched experience.

There are a spectrum of new space-based business opportunities emerging and a surprising variety of players vying to grab a piece of space via a number of avenues. In an era where of everything needed in a satellite can be packaged in your iPhone (as micro-, nano-, even pico-satellites), getting to low earth orbit via established and new heavy launchers through “piggy-backing” or boosted off of upcoming suborbital vehicles powered by hybrid rockets may soon become de riguer. What can be done with fleets of tiny, low cost satellites? Space tourism may become another driver, where getting to space (if you include the suborbital variety) would no longer require $20 million+ and a year of astronaut training, be more down to earth with perhaps no more training than you would need for skydiving or scuba diving. Even your mom could enjoy the view, perhaps someday from a space hotel.

On September 20 at Stanford University, there will be a panel discussion involving a cross section of those seeking to gain from a reinvigorated commercial development of space. The panelists will show you how they are going to give you low cost access zero-g for your microgravity R&D, talk about the beginning of space tourism for the rest of us, show how we can mine the moon for a profit. If you want to find out how companies will thrive in space and what this means for our future, keep reading:

The New Space Race Is On!  Companies are launching in 10, 9, 8, 7 .......

Date/Time: Tuesday, September 20, 2011, 6pm reception, 7-8:30pm panel discussion.
Location: Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Cemex Auditorium
Event Details/Register:

NOTE: Early bird pricing $30 before midnight Friday, Sept. 9, $40 before midnight Friday Sept. 16, $50 thereafter.

Event Description:

With reduced government funding for space programs, the outlook is shifting away from traditional space organizations over to the funding of private entrepreneurs. The coming years are projected to see a dramatic growth in technological innovations and new business models – only paralleled by the Internet growth in the 1990s – and universal access to space.

Entrepreneurs are now exploring opportunities with new rocket launchers, novel uses of affordable small satellites, space tourism, and even space-based power generation and extraterrestrial mining.

How can entrepreneurs successfully launch new ventures in the space industry? Who will fund highly front-loaded capital requirements? What business models are effective? How will technology commercialization mesh with market windows? What about multi-national regulatory incompatibilities and industry incumbents?

Space has always been a petri dish to breed new technologies that later penetrate our everyday life. Discover the latest developments and learn how private investors and businesses are planning to overcome capital intensity and provide new solutions for our problems on Earth.

Moderator: Amaresh Kollipara, Managing Partner of Earth2Orbit, LLC and Strategic Consultant
• William Pomerantz, Vice President, Special Projects, Virgin Galactic

• Jeffrey Manber, Managing Director, NanoRacks
• Bob Richards, Co-founder and CEO, Moon Express
• Al Tadros '88, Vice President of Civil and DoD Business, Space Systems / Loral

About VLAB:
The MIT/Stanford Venture Lab (VLAB: is the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the MIT Enterprise Forum, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the growth and success of high-tech entrepreneurial ventures by connecting ideas, technology and people. We host the largest ongoing gathering of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and thought leaders at our monthly events at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, with an ecosystem that includes 25,000+ Bay Area influencers.

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