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Space industry executives are optimistic about 2019 despite closure and layoffs



WASHINGTON – Despite the recent wave of layoffs and a weeklong partial government shutdown, the company continues to look optimistic about the overall prospects for the space industry in the upcoming year.

During a panel discussion organized by the Foundation for Space, on January 30, business executives ranged from start-up to established satellite operators to talk about the state of the industry and their belief that it was ready for faster growth in the near future.

"This is an extraordinary time," said Courtney Stadd, director of government jobs for a small company, Vector. He commented on General Jay Raymond, head of the Air Force's Space Command, who called the current "inflection point" for the industry at a recent event. "I think we are witnessing 2019 convergence technologies, low prices, market changes, and so on," Stadd said.

However, years have not started well for the industry. The five-week partial closure of the government that ended at the end of January 25 stops everything except the critical activities in NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communications Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, all agencies involved in civil or commercial activities .

The panelists confirmed that the closure had made them. "We felt stumped," said Andrew Rush, president and CEO of Made In Space, who develops orbiting production technologies at the International Space Station. He said the company, which deals with NASA's big business, had the capital reserve it could rely on.

"We've made some gas foot in employment," he said. By turning off, at least temporarily, "we put our toe back on the pedal, but we do not hit it all the way to the floor."

For other companies, shutdown has delayed communications and launched licenses. "When you have a government shutdown, things that will take quite a long time will take longer," said Rebecca Cowen-Hirsch, senior vice president of Inmarsat.

Stadd said the closure would probably delay posting a notice of proposed rule-making rules for revised launch regulations to simplify the entire licensing process. This draft rule should have been published by the FAA on February 1st. The Porot is also responsible for collateral closing effects, he said.

The first few weeks of 2019 also saw several companies announcing layoffs, including SpaceX, Stratolaunch and Virgin Galactic. Panelists, however, did not consider this release as a sign of a wider crisis in the space industry.

"I do not think that's any signal," said Allen Herbert, Vice President of Business Development and Strategy for NanoRacks. – I think the market is still alive. We hire people. "

"With any industry there is a cyclical nature of the different types of skills that are needed," Cowen-Hirsch said, demanding the company to release some people and hire others. "I think what we see in the universe is prioritizing."

Panelists, however, say that some markets may be too big for even the growing space industry. During a question and answer session, one member of the audience asked about the looks of the mining of the asteroid as the two companies that followed it, Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources, recently acquired.

"For the mining of asteroids or the exploitation of spatial resources, it is even more important to be very disciplined about how to approach a business model and is it the right time," Rush said. He claimed that the business that his company is doing to keep the activities around the low orbits around the Earth more sustained could boost future demand for space resources.

"It's a sign of health in our community that there are people looking for a way across the horizon" in markets like the asteroid mining, Stadd said. But, he added, "there is often a tendency to replace the technical possibility with market opportunities."


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