Space Symposium adopts hybrid live and virtual format

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SAN FRANCISCO – The 36th annual Space Symposium will follow a hybrid model, streaming keynote remarks, presentations, panel discussions from the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs Aug. 23-26 to virtual attendees around the world.

Currently, the Space Foundation is preparing for 50% occupancy in meeting rooms with total attendance of nearly 6,000 people including attendees, exhibitors, media and support staff. In comparison, the 35th Space Symposium in 2019 brought together more than 15,000 people.

The 36th Space Symposium is likely to be the first event in the United States to bring the commercial, civil and military space communities together after a year of events cancelled or moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s not yet clear how strong international participation will be since the United States and other countries continue to impose travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives from more than 40 countries attended the 35th Space Symposium.

For the upcoming event, “international delegations are reaching out and expressing interest,” Thomas Dorame, Space Foundation senior vice president, told SpaceNews.

As for social distancing rules and mask-wearing, the Space Foundation “will closely adhere to all state and local public health and safety protocols,” Dorame said. “We will work closely with the Broadmoor to ensure the guidance is followed.”

The Space Foundation is encouraging Space Symposium attendees to be vaccinated prior to the event but will not require participants to show proof of vaccination.

Socializing, which has always been an important element of the Space Symposium, is likely to be somewhat more muted than in the past. The Space Foundation and corporate sponsors still are planning to host dinners, luncheons and receptions. Wednesday evening, however, will not be designated Corporate Hospitality Night as it has been in the past.

The Broadmoor completed construction of a new hall providing more than 90,000 square feet for exhibits in addition to the original 45,000-square-foot venue, allowing more space for social distancing.

The Space Foundation was looking for ways to combine virtual and live programming before the COVID-19 pandemic because of growing demand. In recent years, there were often more people interested in gaining entry to the speaker hall to hear keynote addresses from senior government leaders than space available.

Space Foundation executives are confident the virtual component will offer more people around the world a chance to take part in the Space Symposium. The virtual platform will offer access to interviews, panel discussions and presentations in addition to streaming events in Colorado Springs. People who attend the live events also will have access to the virtual platform.

The 36th Space Symposium was initially scheduled to begin March 30, 2020. It then moved to Oct. 31 and then August as the pandemic continued.