The Broadmoor Hotel had been scheduled to host the 36th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, March 30 to April 2. (Keith Johnson/SpaceNews)

COLORADO SPRINGS — U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, the big draw at the 34th Space Symposium, won’t be delivering a keynote address at this year’s conference. However, the speech Pence gave two weeks ago at a meeting of the National Space Council is sure to reverberate across the four days of briefings and panel discussions on tap for the 35th Space Symposium here April 8-11.

Pence, speaking March 26 in Huntsville, Alabama, called for NASA to return humans to the moon by 2024, dramatically accelerating a time table laid out by the U.S. space agency 15 days earlier in its $21 billion budget request to Congress.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who has made repeated trips to Capitol Hill since Pence’s speech to field questions about how NASA intends to implement the vice president’s directive, is scheduled to speak here Tuesday morning. Among the questions NASA still needs to clearly address: What, exactly, is the plan? How much will it cost to achieve a landing by 2024? What are the new opportunities for companies, or for international partners?

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert Skinner, right, speaks with attendees at last year’s Space Symposium. Credit: Tom Kimmell
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert Skinner, right, speaks with attendees at last year’s Space Symposium. Credit: Tom Kimmell

On Tuesday afternoon, European Space Agency Director General Jan Woerner leads a panel discussion with space agency chiefs from around the world, including Canada, the first nation to formally sign on as a partner in lunar Gateway, the space station NASA intends to build in cislunar orbit  — or at least that was the plan before “reach[ing] the moon in the next five years”  became the order of the day.

Another speaker well positioned to shed light on Trump administration space policy is Scott Pace, the executive secretary of the National Space Council over which Pence presides. Pace is the featured speaker at Tuesday’s Government Affairs breakfast, the same early-bird forum U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) used in 2017 to call for a Space Corps.

In the two years since Rogers put forward the Space Corps proposal, the White House has taken up the mantle by calling on Congress to establish a separate Space Force within the Air Force while reestablishing U.S. Space Command as a unified combatant command. U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead Space Command, Air Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, is speaking Tuesday, as is acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who is expected to press the case for Space Force. Shanahan then heads back to Washington shortly to prepare for a Space Force hearing the Senate Armed Services Committee is holding Thursday.

In her final Space Symposium appearance as Air Force secretary, Heather Wilson is expected to highlight the Air Force’s efforts to make the U.S. “the best in the world at space.” Wilson, who’s stepping down in May to become president of the University of Texas at El Paso, is departing Wednesday to testify at the Space Force hearing. 

Other heavy hitters speaking this week include U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, European Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency President Hiroshi Yamakawa, plus dozens of industry space industry executives.  


All conference sessions are held in the International Center unless otherwise noted. Information subject to change. Check Space Symposium schedule for latest.


12:15 to 1:30 p.m. | DLR Chair Pascale Ehrenfreund speaks at the Tech Track Luncheon (Broadmoor West: Rocky Mountain Ballroom)

12:30 to 1:45 p.m. | United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno speaks at the New Generation Space Leaders Luncheon (Colorado Hall)

6:30 to 7:30 p.m. | Opening Ceremony featuring a special performance by dance crew iLuminate of “America’s Got Talent” fame

7:30 to 9 p.m. | Grand Opening of the Lockheed Martin Exhibit Center. Visit SpaceNews at Booth 730 to get a print and digital subscription to SpaceNews for just $89. That’s 75% off the regular price.

9:00 to 9:15 p.m. | Fireworks display

9:15 to 10:30 p.m.  | Light-night reception hosted by Virgin Galactic and The SpaceShip Company (Lake Terrace Dining Room)


7:15 AM to 8:30 AM | Government Affairs Breakfast: Scott Pace, executive secretary of the U.S. National Space Council, is the featured speaker. (Colorado Hall)

8:45 to 9:05 a.m. | Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan

9:05 to 9:20 a.m. | U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

9:20 to 9:45 a.m. | U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson

9:45 to 10:15 a.m. | NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

10:30 to 11 a.m. | Gen. David Goldfein, U.S. Air Force chief of staff

11:00 to 11:30 a.m. | Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, commander,
U.S. Air Force Space Command

11:30 to 12:00 p.m. | Northrop Grumman CEO and President Kathy Warden

2:00 to 2:30 p.m. | Fred Kennedy, Director, Space Development Agency

2:30 to 3:30 p.m. | Air Chiefs panel featuring Gens. Goldfein and Raymond and  Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier of the Royal Air Force

3:50 to 5 p.m. | The Next 50 Years: Agency Leadership Perspectives. ESA Director General Jan Woerner moderates a panel discussion with space agency chiefs from  Mexico, U.K., Poland, France, South Korea, UAE, Netherlands, Italy and Canada. 


8:45 to 9:05 a.m. | Elzbieta Bienkowska, Commissioner, European Commission

9:25 to 9:55 a.m. | Exploration panel featuring human spaceflight chiefs from NASA, ESA and JAXA 

10:00 to 10:40 a.m. | Emerging Space Agencies panel discussion featuring senior leadership from the Australian Space Agency and Luxembourg Space Agency.

10:00 to 10:45 a.m. | James Webb Space Telescope Town Hall with NASA JSWT Program Manger Bill Ochs, Northrop Grumman’s JWST Program Manager Scott Willoughby and head of the JWST mission office, Massimo Stiavelli (Broadmoor Theater)

10:40 to 11:05 a.m. | JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa

11:05 to 11:45 a.m. | Fireside chat with NOAA leadership. Steve Volz, NOAA assistant administrator for satellite and information and NOAA Deputy Administrator Neil Jacobs

11:45 to 12 p.m. | Shuzo Takada, director general of Japan’s National
Space Policy Secretariat 

2:00 to 2:50 p.m. | Government Missions and the Private Sector: A Legal Roundtable featuring the top lawyers from NASA, ESA, Lockheed Martin and SES

3:00 to 3:50 p.m. | The Africa Space Sector: An Emerging Market. Panel discussion featuring the Ethiopian Space Society, South Africa’s NewSpace Systems, NanoRacks and MIT

4:00 to 4:50 p.m. | In Space Manufacturing panel featuring Made in Space, Maxar, Lunar Resources, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.

4:00 to 4:45 p.m. | Space in Indonesia panel featuring the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space’s prime secretary and other Indonesian officials (Broadmoor Theater)


8:45 to 9:45 a.m. | Global Industry Perspectives panel featuring top executives from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Boeing, Thales Alenia Space, Lockheed Martin, Planet and Iridium Communications

10:05 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. | Army Space panel featuring seven U.S. Army space officials.

11:15 to 12:10 p.m. | NASA iTech the Latest Wave of Entrepreneurs featuring the deputy administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and the founders of Analytical Space, Lazurus 3D and Milo, Inc.

2:00 to 3 p.m. | Navy Space panel featuring the commander of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and other U.S. Navy officials

3:00 to 4 p.m. | Enterprise Disruption panel featuring NGA’s Chirag Parikh, SMC’s Col. Russell Teehan and the NRO’s Stewart Cameron