Press Release

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Inspires Minority Business Owners at Space Entrepreneurship Forum on Capitol Hill

By SpaceRef Editor
October 8, 2009
Filed under , ,

WASHINGTON, DC (October 2, 2009) – Hosted in cooperation with Congresswomen Donna F. Edwards, Eddie Bernice Johnson, and Diane Watson was the 1st Space Entrepreneurship Forum held in the Rayburn Building’s Science and Technology Committee Room on Capitol Hill (Washington, D.C.). 
The Space Entrepreneurship Forum featured keynote speaker Charles F. Bolden, the 12th Administrator of NASA, who inspired an attentive crowd of minority business owners and enthusiastic Howard University middle school students about business opportunities available in the private space industry.

Coordinated by JAKA Consulting Group and the Google Lunar X PRIZE JURBAN Team during the Congressional Black Caucus, NASA Administrator Bolden spoke about how the pathways to space have changed, telling the audience (with focus on the youth) that today’s NASA “isn’t your father’s space program.” He mentioned that we are seeing patterns of change as entrepreneurs and companies are developing aggressive new ideas, noting that as the space tourism industry grows, so does NASA.  The space industry is changing by leveraging cutting edge technologies and advancements introduced by scientists and researchers who are conducting research and development for the production of products such as next generation suborbital spacecraft. It is Bolden’s hope to “find the most innovative solutions to some of the the most difficult and challenging problems in the space industry through competition and innovation.”

Bolden shared his thoughts that the commercial  space flight industry was a great future frontier for American economic growth.  He identified manufacturing and other opportunities for small businesses participating in this sector including, but not limited to next generation entertainment activities such as “spacesports.” Additionally, Bolden mentioned future commercial facilities on space that will require service providers, vendors, and someday shopkeepers. 
And while it may seem far-fetched today, it is entirely in the realm of possibility for the young people sitting in the audience to think of various products or services that will be needed while they advance space technology ranging from space transportation and autonomous construction robots to advancements in planetary habitats and sports in zero gravity.  Bolden mentioned that maybe one day there will be McDonald’s chains available in space. 

The forum benefitted from insights and ideas from other participants such Representative Donna F. Edwards (MD-4), Representative Diane Watson (CA-33), Eric Anderson of Space Adventures, William Pomerantz of X PRIZE, Allen Herbert and Ken Harvey of JAKA Consulting Group, Larry Lawrence of SpaceX, Joe Fuller of Futron Corporation, Dr. Jayfus Doswell director of the Google Lunar X PRIZE JURBAN Team, and Mike Gold of Bigelow Aerospace who stated, “We need diversity in people in the aerospace industry, because a diversity in personnel leads to a diversity of ideas.  This has always been America’s great strength and what sets us apart from other countries and drives our innovation.  The aerospace industry is moribund and trapped in old paradigms of thinking.  One great way to shake this up and revive the industry is to embrace a younger, more diverse group in terms of both race and gender.  If we keep doing the same old things with the same old people we’re destined to fail.”

Overall, the forum gave the audience hope that with the burgeoning opportunities the private and commercial space industry provides, new industrial centers can emerge in urban areas such as Detroit, Cleveland, and other cities currently besot by a lagging economy and a debilitating recession. With fresh streams of revenue, new jobs can be created in the development of products and services supporting the space industry.   

Media Contact:
Allen Herbert
Vice President, JAKA Consulting Group
Phone: 703.689.4400

SpaceRef staff editor.