A New Way of Doing Business – In Space

This first jointly sponsored CCST and the California Space Authority (CSA) meeting created an opportunity to generate awareness of the burgeoning commercial aerospace industry resident in the Mojave under the auspices of the California Space Port. CSA is a member based enterprise association working closely with stakeholders to facilitate California’s competitiveness and space enterprise vitality representing over 370,000 jobs statewide. “The space industry is a $76 billion per year industry,” said CCST Executive Director Susan Hackwood. “Together, California firms represent 40 percent of the national market in this field. It makes sense to focus on this sector, which is highly dependent upon innovation, as we explore the state of California’s innovation ecosystem.”

Moderated by CSA’s Andrea Seastrand, “The Future of Space and Aerospace Industries in California” panel provided a comprehensive insight into the challenges and opportunities present in the space and aerospace sectors. JPL Director Charles Elachi proffered that three essential elements: “education, access to capital, and a great place to live” are what “made California the powerhouse it is”. Yet California cannot live in its past glory days — just look at California’s near bottom rankings in education and business environment. Presenter Major General Thomas Taverney (USAF, Ret.), Sr. Vice President/Executive Staff Space Operations, SAIC, overview set the historical context of innovation with respect to aerospace ranging from the GI Bill, to Sputnik, to Apollo and how three ingredients (intelligent people, investment, and inspiration) are still critical elements for fostering innovation and creativity. While Dean Mohammad Noori, from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s College of Engineering emphasized the decreasing number of students entering engineering due to the state’s financial limitations, he also cited positive engagement of aerospace companies in basic support and loaned executives. Finally, Enrico Palermo shared the excitement and the possibilities of the evolving commercial space sector. Calling the Mojave the “oasis of innovation”, Palermo also noted challenges facing California namely the competitive market from other states like New Mexico willing to invest $200 Million in their spaceport, strategic partnerships e.g. Boeing in Charleston, South Carolina, and more favorable corporate tax rates in other states. “California has a good legacy to build on yet it needs to seize the opportunities.”

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