Space Symposium returns to full size for the first time in three years | Military
The symposium resumed in August 2021 after a 2.5-year absence triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic with a hybrid online and in-person event that drew around two-thirds of its usual attendance. This week’s event will be the first since 2019 to return to typical symposium attendance levels, enough to fill more than 12,000 rooms at 24 hotels, generating an economic impact of $12 million, according to Visit Colorado Springs.
“We’ll be back bigger and better than ever, big enough for all the major players to come back,” said Tom Zelibor, CEO of the Colorado Springs-based company. space foundation, which hosts the annual symposium. “Our attendance numbers will be back to where they were at 14,000, which includes all 10,000 attendees from 40 countries, The Broadmoor employees, our volunteers, speakers and support staff.”
The symposium agenda features more than 200 speakers, including Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall; General John “Jay” Raymond, commander of the US Space Force; General James Dickinson, commander of US Space Command; Josef Aschbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency; Pam Melroy, deputy administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and Chiraq Parikh, Executive Secretary of the National Space Council.
No participants are expected from Russia or China, and participants from Ukraine seem unlikely.
A big name that has yet to be confirmed is British billionaire Richard Branson, founder of The Virgo group, who will receive his space “wings” for completing a short flight to the outer reaches of space last year. Also during the symposium, the foundation will present five annual lifetime achievement awards, public affairs, space exploration, space achievement and education, and honor three technological advancements in its Space Technology Hall of Fame.
Equally important are the 275 exhibits spread across two of Broadmoor’s largest showrooms where aerospace companies showcase their latest technologies and meet potential customers to lay the groundwork or strike multi-million dollar deals. Negotiation continues at dozens of receptions, parties and other events during the symposium spread across the complex’s 2,500-acre campus.
The foundation has added a new wrinkle to this year’s symposium – three new half-day “tracks” or parts of the program on space finance, space exploration and artificial intelligence that will be offered nearby Cheyenne Mountain Station.
All of the Space Symposium programs had been offered at the Broadmoor, but Zelibor said the event had “maximized” the station’s capacity. The Broadmoor added the 171,000 square foot Bartolin Hall last year to accommodate the growth of exhibits at the symposium.
“The symposium has returned to its normal size, and a group using this much space affects almost every business in Colorado Springs,” said Doug Price, CEO of Visit Colorado Springs. “Getting a hotel room this week will be next to impossible.”
This year’s symposium isn’t just about maximizing meeting rooms – the foundation filled all 16 hotels it had rooms booked in mid-March and had to add six more, the most on record for the event. Price said most hotel rooms in the Colorado Springs area have been booked by symposium attendees, leaving few rooms available for last-minute arrivals.
“Even though we did it in August, eight months later, people are excited to come back (to the symposium) in person. It’s a big deal for us (the foundation) and the space community,” Zelibor said. . “The space ecosystem is growing so rapidly – expected to more than double from $447 billion last year to $1 trillion by the end of the decade – that there is a lot of desire to see what is happening and to orient the economy.”
The foundation is also recruiting a record number of volunteers – up to 350 – for the symposium to help with guest attendance and registration, speaker and VIP assistance and security, said Jennifer Walters, the nonprofit’s senior director of business integration. About half of the volunteers return each year to help with the annual event, including active duty and retired military personnel.
The foundation is also extending the symposium to its Discovery Center museum at 4425 Arrowswest Drive, where it will host a free exhibit Family symposium 2-7 p.m. Wednesday with 10 other organizations to provide attendees with opportunities to learn about science, technology, engineering, art, and math for space exploration.
As the event returns to full in-person attendance, the foundation will still offer all symposium sessions, video access to all exhibits, and a virtual chat room for networking on its Symposium 365 online platform. The online platform was launched by the foundation at the end of 2020 after the 2020 symposium was postponed a second time so that the foundation could offer its program throughout the year.
The foundation relies on the symposium for about two-thirds of its revenue, so hosting the event twice in one year helped spark a 50% increase in revenue for the nonprofit.
As a result, the foundation’s staff has grown from fewer than 60 to 90, the most in its nearly 40-year history, for its educational programs, public affairs efforts, fundraising and other operations. . The nonprofit had to cut its staff by nearly 20 people last year after losing nearly $6 million in 2020 following the cancellation of the symposium.
Among the foundation’s efforts to become less dependent on the symposium is the Space Commerce Institute, launched in February to provide education, advice and other assistance to space entrepreneurs. The foundation also runs a program that helps space start-ups develop a business plan, secure funding, find key personnel, and offer other forms of assistance.
Staff growth has led the foundation to expand its offices into new adjacent space donated last year to the nonprofit by the El Pomar Foundation. The donation included the cancellation of a $4.1 million loan and the conversion of a seven-year lease-to-own contract into a gift.
The foundation is also in the early stages of a $50 million capital campaign expected to last up to five years that will fund the renovation and construction of a major expansion of the Discovery Center.